Submitted by Anne Enquist, Lakewood Rotary.
“Make masks and hopefully save lives.” That’s the goal of the Steilacoom FaceMask Project, and since its beginning in March 2020, the Project has done just that. According to Barb Przasnyski, the Project’s volunteer coordinator, the Facemask Project has supplied over 1,500 one-use masks, 400 face shields, and well over 1000 reusable cloth face masks.
Masks have gone all over the country to healthcare workers and their families, front line personnel, nursing homes, kidney dialysis centers, acute care centers, doctors’ and dentists’ office, hospitals, military installations, veterans’ organizations and many more.
On August 14, Przasnyski accepted the Greater Lakewood Unsung Hero Award from Lakewood Rotary and the Partners in Rotary on behalf of the entire Project. In presenting the award, Lakewood Rotarian Kendra Riconosciuto noted that the Project started with the Senior Social Club of Steilacoom and quickly expanded to over 40 community volunteers of all ages who donated materials, money, time, and talent to make face masks and other personal protective equipment.
According to Riconosciuto, “Barb Przasnyski took on the challenge of coordinating all these volunteers and managing supplies. Her porch became a regular drop zone for supplies.”
Riconosciuto explained, “Fabric is expensive, elastic was hard to come by, stores were closed, and not everyone had a sewing machine. It required creativity and Barb’s coordination to overcome these challenges.”
“They arranged loaner sewing machines for more people to help sew. When they couldn’t find elastic, they found that hair ties could be used. When they ran low on fabric, they collected bed sheets and tie dyed the material to make beautiful colorful masks.”
“Eventually the Project set up a pop-up tent and clipboard in Barb’s front yard for local residents to request masks for their families or friends.”
When Przasnyski accepted the award, she said that folks in the Project are still making masks, although they have slowed down a bit. “Some of us have worn out our sewing machines,” she said, “but we are stockpiling masks now in case more are needed in the fall.”
Przasnyski added how impressed she has been with the people in the community. “When faced with a serious problem like a pandemic, they asked ‘How can I help?’” For herself, Przasnyski said, “I had to do something. It was a way to help my community.”
To nominate someone or an organization for the Greater Lakewood Unsung Hero award, simply send a short description of what that person or organization has done in the community during the covid-19 crisis to either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. The selection committee is especially looking for folks who have “gone the extra mile” to help the community during this pandemic.