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May 2020

Masks for NY Volunteers Supply Over 7,500 Masks to Health Care Workers!

By Linnet Tse


“It all began with an article and a Facebook post. ‘Hospitals desperately need masks.’ Our reaction? ‘We can sew; let’s do this!’” As Masks for NY founder Lisa Boillot shares, over 60 volunteers responded overnight to the Facebook post that floated the idea of sewing masks, and within days, over 250 local residents had volunteered to be part of the grassroots initiative.


For Lisa, a Mamaroneck resident who has a background in brand management and consumer marketing and loves to sew, cook, and spend time with family and friends, starting Masks for NY was a natural reaction to the disaster unfolding around us. The volunteer response has continued to be overwhelming. Residents scoured attics to donate fabric and other mask-making materials. And, a cadre of volunteers organized to cut fabric and elastic, sew, and deliver finished masks to health care workers on the front line of area hospitals and other health care facilities.


Holly Rosen Fink, representing the not-for-profit Neighbors for Refugees – an organization dedicated to resettling and supporting refugees – partnered with Masks for NY and quickly connected the group to skilled refugee sewers, which has been an important element of the mask making operation. Seven refugee women from Westchester have joined their efforts to create these protective masks. As Holly explains, “doing this work is empowering and it has made these women feel productive and independent.” Their efforts have been funded in part by grants and donations.


In just three short weeks, Masks for NY has distributed OVER 7,500 masks directly to a growing list of hospitals and health care centers. Recipient organizations include Columbia NY Presbyterian, Weill Cornell Brookdale Medical Center, Brookdale Hospital Medical Center, Mount Sinai West Hospital, Montefiore Hospital in New Rochelle, St John’s Hospital in Yonkers, and Stamford Hospital, just to name a few. With more surgical masks becoming available now, Masks for NY is beginning to be able to respond to the mask needs of other groups, including police and firefighters, and those manning the food pantries and other centers for vulnerable people throughout Westchester and beyond. Organizations in need of masks can contact Masks for NY with their request via their website.


The organization currently has seven collection hubs in Mamaroneck, Larchmont, New Rochelle, Purchase, Yonkers, and Rye.


“We can make a difference, at home, apart, altogether” says Lisa. People can help in one of three ways:


• Donate fabric or elastic.


• Donate time to cut, sew, or drive.


• Donate money to pay for labor or materials.


Further information can be found at www.masksforny.org.