The Coronavirus pandemic has caused many of us to change gears and find ways to protect ourselves, staff, residents, friends and family. One of the things I found myself doing was researching how we could find enough PPE when global shortages headlined every news segment; and suddenly our trusted distributors had nothing to offer us, or at the very least, put us on an allotment of limited items. If PPE could be found, prices for such started to skyrocket and shipment delays were wide-spread.

For a non-profit organization, that meant putting out the ask to anyone in the community who could help. Like Betsy Ross who stepped forward to sew a flag to bring the nation together, we turned again to the seamstresses and sewers. I offered up a prayer for help to show us how to find what we needed. It wasn’t long after that when I started getting voice messages and emails from different people offering to make masks or knowing a contact or two. There was no time to waste, and I followed up on every name drop I was offered.

Our very own resident population sewing group here at Dow Rummel also stepped up to the challenge to make mask after mask after mask… The first wave of mask requests were for our fellow heroes after an announcement from the CDC came out that health care workers should now start donning them. From that first ask, we received a little over 400 masks from various donor groups (I will list them at the end). Then, two weeks ago, as I sat listening to one of many Department of Health zoom meetings, it was mandated that we have residents start wearing masks when out of their rooms/apartments. I honestly thought, “Oh Wow. I’ve asked so much from these groups, how can I possibly ask again?”. But the challenge was set and we needed to move forward.

If there is one thing that keeps an administrator up at night, it’s protecting people. I think I’ve been making masks in my sleep or at least calling sewing groups in my sleep. From this second wave, we have received another 400 + masks in less than a two week time frame. With the nationwide shortage of elastic (from so many people sewing masks), this time our sewers got really crafty and used shoe laces, hair bands, ace wrap bandages, etc for the ear loops. Now… these ear loops have sometimes given people sores behind the ears, so yet another innovative idea sprung up from individuals and companies owning 3-D printers, and we soon had donations to our Village South Assisted Living of plastic comb-like connectors (mask extenders) behind the head. Shortly after that, we got another donation of 500 of these from another organization for the rest of our campus.

There are just so many people to thank in all of this and I’m sure I’m going to leave someone out so I’m sorry in advance if I do, but know that you are all appreciated for your generosity at this unprecedented time.

Thank you to:
Debra Sherley and the First Baptist Church
About Face Group – Megan Fields, Danielle McClure and all the sewers giving to About Face.
Quilters Guild – Gwen Lehman, Joyce Goldammer, Ila, Irene Forch and others
Zoe Donelan with Heroes Wear Masks
Dow Rummel Sewing Group – Susan Jo Young, Susan Schrader, Marge Brekke, Mary Benson, Ralph DeRaad, Albertha Flatberg, Evie Feterl, Marge Haken, Margaret Jones, Faith Kanter, Marcia Knutson, Lenore Lange, Marilyn Moseson, Barb Marinchek, Darrel Martens, Pearl Miller, Margot Nelson, Pam Putnam, Beverly Peterson, Lois Rem, Phyllis Sprenger, Susan Schrader, Evelyn Thayer, Janet Timmerman and Barbara Duin
Rogene Brown for coordinating needs with DRV sewing group
Members of the Catholic Diocese sewing groups
Jody Buckley for emailing the sewing groups in town
Pat Bowman and the First Presbyterian Church
Charisse Oland, Board Member, for your help in calling around
Doris Eichmann
April Schreurs
Carol Steuck
Samantha Braun
Sheryll Adkins
Kelly Rezac
Billie Taylor
Teri Card
Kristi Jons
Al Barber’s family
Brandie Langer and her family of Eric, Abigail, Emma, and Carter
Mask extenders provided by – Rob Moeller, Scot Collins, and Chris McVey at Falcon Plastics in Brookings
South Dakota Department of Health state stockpile
South Dakota Health Care Coalition