In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing cloth masks in public places to slow the spread of COVID-19, but in many places the need for such masks exceeds the supply. nVent team members across the United States are stepping up to help.
In Baton Rouge, La., nVent Thermal Management Construction Project Manager David Sharpe and Sales Support Specialist Mary Kissner have spearheaded a large mask-making effort. Nancy Sharpe, David’s wife, a seamstress, was approached by a local nurse who needed a washable cloth mask. The Sharpes and Kissner took things a step further, setting up shop sewing washable, reusable masks and giving them to local organizations in need. Many of their donations have been to local first responders.
“Anything we can do to help first responders, they’re under so much pressure right now,” said Sharpe. “It’s fulfilling, and it’s also fun. Instead of sitting around and trying to watch something on TV, we’re doing this.”
Sharpe and Kissner also began recruiting more people to join the project. Some donated materials while others joined in the mask-making. At first the group gathered in the Sharpe household, but as more people wanted to participate in the project, they needed more room to maintain appropriate social distancing. The local fire department stepped up to help, offering space in an old fire station that is now a museum.
As of today, Sharpe and Kissner have about 10 volunteers who meet daily after work to sew masks. The group has donated over 2,500 masks to more than 25 different local organizations in need. They currently make about 200 masks every day. So far, most of the material has come out of their personal collections, but the group has put out a call to the community for cloth and elastic straps.
nVent Account Rep Rob Guercio, Construction Project Manager Wade Jarvis and Construction Cost Control Specialist Joey Schreiber have also donated time and resources to support the mask-making project in Baton Rouge.
Other nVent team members are sewing masks for their communities as well. In Redwood City, Calif., nVent Thermal Management Engineering Vice President Linda Kiss has worked out the mask-making process on her 40-year-old sewing machine. Having practiced by making masks for her friends and family, she has ordered some more materials and plans to make and donate at least 50 more. Kiss did not have enough elastic bands initially to follow the pattern exactly, but got creative figuring out that some hair ties were the right size for ear loops.
In Saint Louis Park, Minn., nVent Executive Assistant Kassinda Thomson has been contributing to many parts of her local community. She has sewn 200 masks so far, and plans to make at least 500 to donate to smaller healthcare facilities and long-term care facilities that don’t have the resources of larger facilities. She has also donated some to blood banks.
Some of Thomson’s masks have even made their way across the country. After posting a public message on Facebook asking if anyone needed masks, Thomson received a special request from a Philadelphia-based DJ who is also a healthcare worker. Thomson often listens to the DJ’s program and made 75 musical-themed masks to ship to Philadelphia.
“It’s a hard time for all of us,” Thomson said. “But it’s a time as humanity where we can come together when we’re apart. That’s what I’m trying to get out of it. We’re all trying to help each other, to show compassion and caring.”
We are proud of our nVent team members for stepping up to support their communities during this critical time of need. If you would like to contribute by making masks for your community, the CDC has posted instructions online.