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A Blue Shield Employee Heard About the Mask Shortage and Now Has Made and Donated More Than 700 of Them

When a shortage hit the region, Pat Church started making masks -- a lot of them

The coronavirus is keeping us apart, but our humanity is keeping us together. Pat Church, a senior systems analyst at Blue Shield of California, has used social isolation as a time to help her community. She estimates she has created and donated 725 face masks since the shelter in place order went into effect.

“Everywhere you turned you heard that there was a mask shortage,” she said, “so I decided to spring into action. I found some instructional videos on YouTube and began to work.”

mask 1

Church already knew her way around the sewing machine and put hers to good use. She had fabric at home and began to create masks, but she hit a roadblock, she didn’t have enough elastic.

“I decided to go on social media to see if anyone knew where I could purchase more,” Church said. “When I shared what I was trying to do, the response was overwhelming.”

Her neighbors, family and friends began to donate all supplies needed to make the masks. One of her cousins who currently lives in Taiwan saw her post and shipped her elastic from overseas.

In addition to supplies, she started to receive requests for donations. She has given masks to Hospice of East Bay, Planned Parenthood of Contra Costa County, Home Care Assistance and, of course, family and friends. She then received another request from a surgical technologist to create masks that can cover N95 masks.

“This requestor and his colleagues were being asked to reuse their masks. I actually have a nephew on the East Coast who only receives one mask a week,” Church said.” The mask I create adds an extra layer of protection. At the end of the day they can throw it in the washing machine, clean it and use it to cover their N95 mask for their next shift.”

When she goes to the grocery store or post office, she takes some masks with her to give to the essential workers. All other donations are made with a contactless pickup. She lets people know when her order is ready and leaves them on her porch.

“I am blessed that I am not having feelings of depression during this isolation,” she said. “I don’t have time for those thoughts to enter my mind because any free time I have I am making masks. When I wake up, I might spend 30 minutes cutting fabric, at lunch I take some time to add the elastic, and when I logoff for the day I am at my ironing board pressing masks. I think this work is giving me an adrenaline rush because I am able to do some good during this unfortunate time.”