Salmo woman starts Facebook group to organize mask-makers

Hopes to ease mask shortage for Kootenay first responders and essential service workers.

A Salmo woman is gathering an army of seamstresses to make masks to help local first responders and essential workers deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jessica Mitchell, who’s immune-compromised herself and staying isolated, recently heard of the looming shortage of surgical masks and other medical supplies.

“I saw a post, it was coming from the U.S. asking people to do that,” she says. “I was surprised there were no local groups doing this for our local community.”

She decided to do something about it.

Mitchell started a Facebook group to see if there was any interest, and the response in just one day has been overwhelming.

“I am just shy of 230 members who are working on making masks,” Mitchell told Castlegar News on Tuesday, March 24. “I started the group yesterday, so it’s really taking off, the response has been incredible.”

SEE: B.C. care providers say masks, medical supplies ‘drying up’ due to COVID-19 concerns

Mitchell emphasizes it’s not just her organizing this. Friends like Teresa Wiedrick and others have helped make it happen.

“They have been an integral resource and we’re all in this together,” she says.

Mitchell says people can find designs for masks online, and can work up the masks from there. She says it’s not too complicated, and a person can create quite a number of masks every day.

“From what I understand they are very easy to make,” she says. “They don’t use a ton of fabric and you can make one pretty quickly.”

“There are different templates online, I am in contact with a lot of health workers who are coming to a consensus on the best styles that they are looking for,” she says.

This is still in the early stages — Mitchell’s only been running with this for a day, after all — but she says she’s been hearing from health officials about her mask-making drive.

The big problem, of course, is the need for sterility. Medical equipment has to be of a high standard that home-made mask makers just can’t meet.

But Mitchell says there are still uses for her group’s masks.

“We have not got the go-ahead from Infection Control, which was expected,” she says. “But nurses and people on the front line are saying we do need them. So it’s becoming more of a personal choice for them to bring them to work.

“And they can use them when they go home to be with their family.”

She says the system really can’t give the official OK to use the masks, but individual health-care workers are deciding if and when to use them.

“We also got lots of orders from seniors homes, as well as for first responders, emergency services have asked for them. And we are reaching out to essential service providers like grocery stores to offer them to their staff.”

Over the next few days Mitchell hopes to organize the requests for masks with the creators making them, to co-ordinate who will send what to each group in need.

Anyone is welcome to join her group to take part in the sewing bee.

SEE: Homemade Masks for Hometown Heroes (FB page)

Mitchell says anyone needing the masks is welcome to contact her through the Facebook page to see if her group can help.

“It’s really important right now, we’ve never been so dependent on each other, to be healthy, to keep healthy and safe,” she says. “And I love we are giving an opportunity for people who are practicing social distancing at home an opportunity to help those who don’t have that opportunity.

“I think it’s a great way to involve the community from a distance.”



reporter@rosslandnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Needing masks isn’t new. A public service ad from 1918, showing people how to make a rudimentary face mask to try to avoid the deadly influenza. (Contributed photo).

Just Posted

No games, no fans: Nelson Soccer adjusts to pandemic restrictions

The association has been offering skills training at Lakeside Park

COLUMN: Think local first more vital than ever

Tom Thomson writes about how the Chamber of Commerce is helping local business

New book reappraises Silvery Slocan mining rush

Peter Smith has published Silver Rush: British Columbia’s Silvery Slocan 1891-1900

21 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in B.C. as virus ‘silently circulates’ in broader community

Health officials urge British Columbians to enjoy summer safely as surge continues

Tough time for tree fruits as some B.C. farm products soar

Province reports record 2019 sales, largely due to cannabis

‘Let’s all do a self-check’: Okanagan mayor reacts to racist vandalism targeting local family

Home of Indo-Canadian family in Summerland was targeted on evening of July 13

Province agrees to multimillion-dollar payout for alleged victims of Kelowna social worker

Robert Riley Saunders is accused of misappropriating funds of children — often Indigenous — in his care

B.C. businessman David Sidoo gets 3 months behind bars for college admissions scam

Sidoo was sentenced for hiring someone take the SATs in place of his two sons

PHOTOS: Inside a newly-listed $22M mega-mansion on ALR land in B.C.

The large home, located on ALR land, is one of the last new mansions to legally be built on ALR land

Thousands of dollars in stolen rice found in B.C. warehouse

Police raid seizes $75,000 in ‘commercial scale’ theft case

COVID-19 gives B.C. First Nation rare chance to examine tourism’s impact on grizzly bears

With 40 infrared cameras deployed in Kitasoo-Xai’Xais territory, research will help develop tourism plan with least impact on bears

NDP wants Lower Mainland MLA removed from BC Liberal caucus for alleged homophobia

BC Liberal leader, some MLAs apologize for Christian magazine ads but Laurie Throness doubles down

Most Read