Locals head to the sewing machines to help protect healthcare workers

Above: Julyn Bird at the machine sewing masks for healthcare workers who are on the front lines of this pandemic and struggling to find the protective gear they need. The group needs more material and elastic and is asking everyone to search their closets for any extra material you may have at home.

Now more than ever, our small communities play a compelling role in our well being, from our day to day lives to our overall protection. People helping People.

To everyone working to keep America strong and safe, thank you.

Locally here in Devine, Natalia and Lytle  and all over Medina County we have people heeding the call. From our first responders to the ones at home making homemade masks for healthcare workers, cashiers, food service, truckers, gas station attendants and all the other essential workers, people are looking for masks to help protect them as personal protection equipment is in very limited supply during the Covid-19 pandemic. Especially health care workers.

“We are using them in the hospitals now. We’ve been cleared to wear them, a lot of hospitals are,” said Christian Jones of Devine who works in an Emergency Department in San Antonio. He does and has spent many years on an ambulance in Devine as well responding to 9-1-1 calls. “We truly need homemade masks and appreciate them. We use them frequently. Supplies and shortages have caused us to need alternatives. Even if it’s just as a precaution or a just in case. If it’s a confirmed or likely Covid Case we have the N95 masks and gear but very few of them. So for normal patients we are trying to use just the simple masks.”

“We can come home after shift and wash them to reuse them. Plus they are more comfortable and don’t cause rashes and thing to our face and ears. It is definitely a long road ahead and the worst is yet to come they think, but we will come through together as a city”.

“I’m hoping it will open people’s eyes to the seriousness of it. We have been cleared to use the appropriate homemade masks and are grateful for them.  We are definitely using them.  I know several local ladies are staying up all hours of the day and night to fill requests for the homemade cloth masks and we are grateful to them. I have a friend that I met years ago after helping her family on several emergency calls that is devoted to helping us in the healthcare industry as much as possible. She is making masks and her mom, daughter, neighbor and friends are all helping. Others are gathering supplies and helping with the process of making the masks at her home. I am sure there are many others out there too. Thank you, thank you for rescuing the rescuers! We need you and appreciate you taking care of us so we can go home to our families.”

“Julyn Bird of Devine and Heather Yanta has been busy seeing that I and my co workers have masks, as well as many others in our community and other areas, but they are running out of supplies. Anyone who has material, elastic or donations for them to make more, please get it to them and network. They are going out as fast as they can make them.”

Maria McQuoid ironing fabric to be sewn into masks for healthcare workers.
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Julyn Bird lives just outside Devine and has been busy cutting, sewing, answering messages and coordinating the drop off or delivery of masks from her home. Her mother Shriley Austermiller, daughter Lexxus, and  neighbor Maria McQuoid gather together to each do their part, whether it be cutting the patterns out, adding the elastic, washing the material, ironing the material, or packaging them in Ziplocs for delivery, they have all teamed up to respond to the needs of their loved ones, friends, and healthcare industry at first. Requests are coming in fast, but material and elastic is hard to find, especially since the demand is nationwide and people are being told to stay at home.

Also, now many essential businesses are requiring their employees to wear a mask of some kind. And it is being recommended nationwide to wear a mask when you have to go out in any public place like grocery stores and the for necessary trips.  Otherwise it is recommended that people stay home as much as possible and only go out if necessary.

“We have made over 200 cloth masks and they have all have been donated  to individuals as fast as they are made”, said Julyn Bird. “Most of our masks are distributed here locally, but we have sent masks to Gilbert and Mesa, Arizona and Ennis, Texas as well.”

Recently we set up a facebook page named “Stitches by Julyn” for all to see or leave comments.

“We have exhausted all our supplies and are in need of more. If anyone out there has some and would like to donate them please do so. We will make as many as we can and give them to those in need. We are getting local requests non-stop. We do not charge for the masks and use donated money to buy material when we can find it and supplies.

Supplies needed are: thread, 1/4 inch elastic, fusible mid weight interfacing or muslin, cotton fabric, square plastic snack bags or sandwich bags, gallon plastic bags, and permanent markers.

Donations of supplies or monetary donations can be dropped off at Calame Store in Devine from Monday thru Saturday 10am to 6 pm. Monetary donations can also be given to Bird or sent to The Devine News, Attn: Kathleen Calame, PO Box 508, Devine, Texas 78016. Please specify the donation is for Stitches for Julyn.

Like Bird there are others around town like a friend of mine are spending hours at their sewing machines doing their part to help out loved ones and friends because they are grateful and want to help saying, “I am glad to help and do my part. I don’t know as many people around here as you do, but I can sew and enjoy sewing and helping others, together we make a great team”.

Others are gathering the supplies from friends and spreading the word. Some are distributing them to those on the front lines. We all have a way of helping out and using our resources and blessings to team up in this fight for the safety our fellow community members in the fight against COVID-19.

If you know of someone who use to love to sew, and may not have the time or energy now, but may have a stash of material, thread or elastic in their closet, please contact them and let them know about this project and need for supplies. I know there are a lot of retired moms and grandmas out there who will come to our aid if we can get the word out.

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts and lungs.

Julyn can be reached at 830-444-1160 by phone.  Drop off can be taken to Calame Store which is located at the at 2598 CR 5710, Devine. Calame Store is open Monday thru Saturday 10 am to 6 pm. and on Sundays from 12 noon to 6 pm. and can be reached by phone at 830-931-7370.

Shirley Austermiller fills envelopes to be mailed out to people on the front lines of the pandemic.
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Hospital accepting masks

Medina Community Hospital in Hondo is accepting donations of homemade masks, hand sanitizers, new masks, N95 masks, latex free gloves, face shields and goggles. See their website for details and other items you can donate to help patients in Medina County.  An instructions on how to make homemade masks is on their website as well at medinahospital.net under patient services tab.

“The shortage of masks is probably the biggest struggle we have right now,” said Ashley Lowe, Medina Regional Hospital.  “Currently we are using masks when in direct contact with patients and providing patients with masks as well when symptoms exist.  Anyone that is not in direct patient care is provided with a cloth mask to use.  We are always accepting and love donations of masks.”

The Power of Community is strong in Devine, Medina  County, Texas!

By K.K. Calame

The Devine News