A Helping Hand

A mother’s crafty passion turned into a potential life saver for those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic

April 07, 2020
A small act paired with a mother’s love can be profoundly transformative.
 
Just ask a Southern California nurse battling on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.  
 
Like so many facilities nationwide, her hospital faces a critical shortage of the N95 masks needed to protect doctors and nurses from the deadly virus. That’s when her mom stepped in.
 
“So, when I told my mom how we were having a shortage, she said she would help in any way,” the nurse says.
Unbreakable Bond -- Brenda (right) and her daughter (left), who is one of many healthcare professionals working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Armed with her sewing machine, tons of fabric and the same dedication that has marked her 30 years at the TMNA Los Angeles Region, Demand and Supply Administrator Brenda Montoya transformed her passion into a call to action and a labor of love.
 
“If anything, it makes me feel like I’m doing something. Better to do a little something than to not do anything at all,” Montoya says.
 
After working at home each day to observe social distancing guidelines, Brenda turns to her sewing machine at night. Following an instructional video on YouTube, she creates two protective masks every evening. Each mask takes 45 minutes to create, double woven with twill and cotton, then disinfected. And each creation bears a message of hope, love and faith for its recipient.
 
A Labor of Love -- Brenda Montoya’s homemade masks each contain a message of hope and faith for healthcare professionals working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. And when she runs low on supplies, colleagues like Engagement Marketing Analyst Soojie Kuroda are quick to supply extra fabric and elastic bands.

“I’m all about words,” Montoya says. “It’s so that my daughter and all the nurses have a message of positivity when they put that mask on. Just to know that they’re not alone.”
 
Experts say that while homemade cloth masks aren't ideal, they may be the best option for some people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that health care providers with no other option use homemade masks, bandanas or scarves to provide some kind of barrier protection.
 
When Brenda’s daughter shared the homemade masks with fellow health care workers in need, they were stunned by her mother’s gift.
 
“They were just so grateful to know that they have their own masks that they can use every day.  And It means the world to me,” says Brenda’s daughter. “I think of her whenever I wear it. Sweetest mom ever.”
 
Montoya is now among thousands of people throughout the country who are answering the call to create homemade masks. She plans to make as many possible for as long as they are needed.
 
“It gives me a little bit of comfort. If I can take care of even just 20 nurses, then that’s something.”
 
By Alexa Conomos

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