A few years ago, Mary Bachran met Marjorie True.
True was working as a nurse in hospice care and at this time, Bachran’s husband was a patient whomTrue had visited. True’s husband passed away and the following day, Bachran’s husband passed.
“We’ve been close friends since then,” True said.
The two share many things in common — growing up on the Western Slope on a farm and being a part of a large family — and one of those is sewing. Together the pair of friends have sewn for charity and have even lent a hand to the local theater, sewing costumes.
“It (sewing) just adds another layer of just being together and doing stuff,” Bachran said. She recalled doing projects with True. “This sewing thing was just another way that we could connect our histories together.”
Recently, Bachran said she received an email from the volunteer coordinator for the Grand Junction HopeWest Hospice asking if she could sew some masks for them. Bachran was also contacted by Linda McCone with the North Fork Senior Connection about making masks and gowns for Delta County Memorial Hospital.
Both women have done sewing projects with HopeWest before, including making teddy bears (“care bears”) for family members left behind out of the deceased's clothing. Helping out is what Bachran does, she said. So when she got the call to help, she wanted to lend her services.
“I’ve involved volunteering for hospice since my husband died so it’s been 10 years,” Bachran said. “So when hospice asks, if it’s within my capabilities, then I do it. Simply because they are such an absolutely magnificent organization and everything that they did for him, I want them to do for other people.”
The email included a pattern for a fitted mask, and Bachran contacted True to help her with this project. True said she got involved simply because her friend asked. She also worked and volunteered for hospice and is connected with the organization.
True noted that she has been having a bit of a hard time with the pattern that was initially given to Bachran. Because of her background in the sewing business, Bachran was able to create a method to sew it. True said now that they have this easier pattern, they are able to sew the different sections and multiple pieces together.
“The patterns that we buy are step-by-step… but this is not,” True said. “There are pictures that are hard to interpret. I have a sense that it’s a little more complicated than other masks that are being produced.”
The masks Bachran and True are creating are fitted with a wire to fit on the wearer’s nose and even have a pocket for a filter for added protection. The other masks, which will also work, are more rectangular in shape, with some folded material in the front.
These can be used for all healthcare providers. True emphasised that healthcare providers need multiple masks because they need to change them often. These masks are washable and need to be washed. If a wearer comes in contact with the coronavirus, it can infiltrate the material, True explained, adding, the wearer should wear it a limited amount of time and then wash it. These can be thrown into the washing machine -- just secure the elastic.
To help with the need at DCMH — both masks and gown making — volunteers are asked to lend a hand from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday, April 2, at the Paonia Town Hall, 214 Grand Ave. in Paonia. This will include a pick up and delivery of supplies and finished products.
The need is about 1,000 masks which would be two per employee for the hospital and its clinics. Volunteers needed are those who can sew items together but also some who can do the cutting of the pattern and finish masks by putting wires and elastic bands on them.
“I think part of it is an awareness of the need,” True said. “I think it’s almost parallel to many of the things that have happened in our history in regards to people stepping up as far as determining that this can be not only managed governmentally whether it’s federal or state but it can also be managed locally by the people involved.”
Both women emphasised the importance of volunteering where you can in a safe manner. They suggest calling neighbors, checking in on neighbors and making sure they are OK. Those who are in the lesser risk group can shop for others, visit them even if it is from the door or call on the phone. Bachran said it’s about breaking the social isolation, adding, if you don’t want to be depressed yourself, reach out a hand.
“(It is important) so we can take care of each other to get through this, and be OK and be better at the end of it. Because you build those relationships during these times and they’re going to last and the more cohesive our community is, the better our community is going to function.”
If you would like to sew masks or donate material, contact Bachran at firstname.lastname@example.org. The type of material they need is tightly woven such as upholstery fabric, True said, adding this in itself is a barrier. They also need 100% cotton fabric. Elastic needs to be ¼” or ⅜” wide and be 11 inches long.
Bachran said she will keep making them until she runs out of materials. To help HopeWest, contact Hedy Hodges at Hhodges@hopewestco.org or call 970-874-2606. To contact the North Fork Senior Connection, call McCone at 970-527-3482.
“It just feeds my soul to do projects like this where we’re giving back to the community,” Bachran said. “To give back to the community like that I think is really gratifying.”
**Note: The pattern will be available soon.