Diane's Voice

Good Works: Hope for Tampa, Masks for Medical Workers in Tampa Bay

Welcome to The Sirens new monthly feature: Non-profit of the Month. The Sirens have many causes that are near and dear to our hearts, but one of the most urgent ones at the moment, for me, is making sure medical workers in at least our local community are equipped with the protective equipment they need.

masksMy husband is a physician, so many of my very dearest friends are medical workers. The stories out of various cities where hospital workers are practicing their art, at great personal risk, without the necessary protective equipment, are devastating. No one wants that to happen in their city.

Enter Hope N. Griffin, the founder of Masks for Medical Workers in Tampa Bay. On March 20th, Hope created this group to organize an army of sewing enthusiasts to create hand-sewn masks hospitals and health care facilities needed to keep their staff and patients safe. The site connected these craftspeople with medical care workers through their Facebook page, so that the health care facilities could request the type of mask they thought would be most protective.

cuttingfabricWithin weeks, the organization not only had people sewing masks, they also had fabric donations, cutting crews (people who couldn’t or chose not to sew, but instead spent their time cutting fabric to deliver to the sewers to cut down on prep time), and drivers. They had posted patterns for many types of mask, as well as video tutorials on everything from sewing pleats to attaching elastic. Some even started making headbands with buttons so that medical workers could put the elastic loops around the buttons instead of their ears.

As of April 24th, they had 212 volunteers: 170 people sewing, 85 drivers delivering daily, and 18 people on the cutting crew. They had already delivered 7,429 masks to medical workers; over 800 masks to friends, family, and neighbors; and had completed 99 out of the 117 orders put in by medical groups.

Cathy masksHowever, they still need to provide an additional 5,778 masks around the area. If you and/or family members would like to participate in the effort, whether by sewing, cutting fabric, driving, or donating supplies, you can fill out the following form. You can also join the over 1036 members on their Facebook page.

Even if you’re not local, if you like to sew, this group is for you. They have received masks from crafters as far away as the United Kingdom. I have been interviewing many of their volunteers and they all say that the urge to do something during this pandemic is so great, and this group has given them the sense that they can help even if (in their words) it is only in a small way.

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