Friday, April 10, 2020

Volunteers come together statewide to provide masks to healthcare workers

By Matt Pascarella

‘Sewing Masks for Maine’ is a volunteer organization that are creating masks specifically for healthcare providers. Within 15 days of the group forming, they had already delivered almost 2,000 masks to healthcare facilities. ‘Sewing Masks for Maine’ has a network of roughly 1,500 people from every county in the state, including volunteers from Windham who wish to remain anonymous. The group formed after seeing hospitals around the country requesting cloth face masks to extend the life of their N95 respirators.

The masks do not protect from COVID-19 and are not considered Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). However, in speaking with Kristen Peters, the group’s Public Relations person, while adequate PPE is obviously preferred, the fabric masks can be used over the N95 respirators to extend their life. The masks can be washed, sterilized and reused to give clinical masks an extra layer of protection.

A group of six lead volunteers organized and built a structure designed to connect health care organizations and home sewers as efficiently as possible, while providing quality control and adhering to social distancing guidelines.

The group has received over 8,000 mask requests so far and the group is making 150-200 masks a day. The sewers are using socially distant, touch-free drop off locations to get completed masks to the group’s coordinators. There are 38 drop off locations across the state.

The masks are made of 100% quilting cotton fabric and sewing elastic. Each mask is quality checked before it is delivered. Things are moving very fast. Peters estimates that roughly 2,500 masks have been made, with most of those made already delivered.

“We feel that no healthcare worker should be on the frontlines without adequate protection,” said Peters. “If our masks can help in some way, we want to fill that need; healthcare workers are people who will be caring for us if we get sick – we want to care for them too.”

Peters goes on to add “We’ve been hearing from recipients who are incredibly moved by these masks; to know that people are being so generous with their time and talent. It sounds like it’s been a morale boost for people who are bearing the brunt of this crisis.”

Currently, there are a few Windham and Raymond residents who have joined in on the effort. If you’re interested in helping, would like to request a mask(s), or want to know more about ‘Sewing Masks for Maine,’ visit their website at:

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