Pagosans answer the call for masks to help medical workers

Photo courtesy Shari Pierce

By Debby Donovan
Special to The SUN
It was less than two weeks ago when I received a call from the hospital asking if I would be willing to assume the role of coordinator for a community-wide volunteer effort to make masks for our hospital, the Pagosa Springs Medical Center (PSMC).
It was a logical call for the hospital to make as I am one of the more than 70 women who make up a group of crafters called the Pagosa Stitchers. You may remember previous articles I’ve submitted to The SUN about philanthropic efforts this group has undertaken. We contributed to the Pagosa Pals project which supplies our local police, fire and social services professionals with teddy bears to hand out to children in crisis. There are the scarves and hats we donate to a national program for active-duty military and their families. Then there are the chemo hats, blankets and eye masks we donate to PSMC, but not all in our group sew and I wasn’t sure those who did could meet the magnitude of the requested need.

Photo courtesy Debby Donovan
A newer resident to Pagosa, Kim White, along with her mother, are in mass production of masks to support the needs of Pagosa Springs Medical Center.

The problem was easily solved the minute the hospital put out a request for additional help from the community. Within 24 hours, I was tied to my computer answering questions and queries from more than 100 potential volunteers about how they could participate. Since then, we have established what I like to call a team of mask-making warriors. This group is comprised of sewing and quilt guild members, nurses and medical staffers, youngsters and those who are seasoned, 4-H’ers, professional seamstresses, grandmothers, aunties, mommies and their progeny, singletons and families who are dedicated to making a difference, not because they have to, but because they want to. The kindness in their hearts and the sense of obligation to our community has been a privilege to see unfold. As of this writing, our friends and neighbors have handmade and donated 527 masks to be used by non-frontline clinicians at PSMC. Many more are on the way.
Within a week of this community-wide effort, there was a global shortage of elastic as people around the world were also trying to deal with the deficit of personal protective gear in their communities. That didn’t stop our intrepid crew from coming up with inventive ideas to meet this shortfall. For example, Pagosan Heidi Barrett cleverly contacted the Goody Hair Accessory company and managed to convince them to donate 400 elastic headbands to us, which will be a great substitute for elastic. Neighbor Brenda McCall is using opaque women’s tights cut into bands as a replacement. I can’t begin to tell you how many of the volunteers have ordered hundreds of yards of elastic and await delivery for what will make up the next rounds of donations. In the interim, these volunteers have created their own network to share ideas, techniques and materials to meet the hospital’s need.

Photo courtesy Debby Donovan
Longtime resident and master crafter Anlaug Adams sharing her talents for our hospital.

At some point, when life has resumed to our new post-virus normal and our mask-making volunteers are no longer needed, I want to share with you the names of all the individuals who are helping to make a difference in our community as they deserve to be recognized for their selflessness, ingenuity and compassion.
In the meantime, I write this as I thought you should know of these individuals who have come together to help make our community a safer place. And, possibly, when you are bragging to others who don’t live here about our incredible lifestyle with all its beauty and endless possibilities for enrichment, I hope you will also mention how proud you are to be a Pagosan due of the caliber of the individuals who live here and how they go the extra mile in times of need.

This story was posted on April 2, 2020.