During these trying times, certain people in our community step up and do something good to warm our hearts. Kayci Ferreira is one of those! Kayci, one of our Member Relations Managers, has taken it upon herself to make face masks for healthcare and emergency personnel who are facing a shortage during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
At first, Kayci used her own money to sew masks from scratch. However, once her co-workers at Allegius learned of her project, she has seen a steady flow of support with funds from our “$5 Friday Jean Day” from employees, combined with matching funds from the credit union. She is now able to afford additional, higher quality material to make more masks for the medical professionals who need them the most.
Gary Fossey, Vice President of Member Development at Allegius Credit Union, sat down with Kayci recently to learn more about her passion project.
How did you learn to sew?
My family was big into 4-H growing up. My mother had 4 young kids, all around the same age, all in 4-H working on different projects. With that being said, we were sent to my grandma’s house when it was time for the sewing portion. Mostly, because my mom did not have the patience for it, but also because my grandma was way better at sewing.
What started this project?
My mother is a nurse in an assisted living facility. She showed up to work one day and there were signs posted around the building that all nurses and health professionals were required to wear face masks at all times. However, there were NO face masks provided by the facility.
A few years ago, my sister and I had bought our mom a brand-new sewing machine and a cute little sewing box with all kinds of supplies. So, the next day after my mom’s concern, I decided to dust off the equipment and put my amateur sewing skills to use. I worked through mistakes and learned on the fly but was able to throw together some masks for my mom and her co-workers.
Then, the enormity of this pandemic hit home. A couple days later, my sister sent me a message from Facebook that area companies were looking for volunteers to assist in the making of face masks. Right away, I knew what I had to do to help my community and the well-being of healthcare providers.
After my initial attempt at mask making, I placed a post on Facebook with pictures, essentially making fun of my own sewing skills because they were terrible, but in the event of a crisis, even my non-professional skills would suffice. After the posting, friends and family members reached out and donated some supplies and it has remarkably grown from there.
How many masks have you made to date?
I have made approximately 265 masks since I started production around March 17. At first, the process was slow and tedious, since I have not sewn in YEARS, and I even took to watching YouTube videos for about 2.5 hours to find patterns that I could figure out. Through trial and error, my skills improved and I was able to streamline the process to make different patterns with different material to match the need for health facilities as well as the general public.
What do you do with the masks once they are completed?
I joined a Facebook group called Masks for NWI Healthcare Workers, which has been incredibly beneficial in answering any and all questions I have had. They have been a great point of contact, and have been distributing the masks to our local area for those in need.
The majority of the masks I have made thus far, which have been made out of 100% cotton and elastic, have been donated to Brentwood at LaPorte Assisted Living & Memory Care and Residences of Coffee Creek (where my mom works). I am now venturing out to learn how to make the higher-grade masks that can be used in hospitals. The demand has been so great that I now have a small network of helpers making masks, with a plan in the near future to do a mailbox/porch pick up and each person will pick a facility they would like to donate them to.
Who would you like to thank for helping you with this effort?
As much as I appreciate the recognition, it really has been a group effort. I would like to give a special thanks to my mom and all other nurses as well as anyone else working out in the front lines and health field. My friend Melinda, as well, gets a big thank you for kindly directing me to all the information, answering my questions, and patiently FaceTimed me countless times to walk me through sewing issues.
I wish to also thank everyone who has donated material, and special thanks for Allegius Credit Union for funding this project. My efforts and success would not become a reality if it wasn’t for you all. Your support has truly been amazing!
Allegius is very proud of our very own Kayci Ferreira!
Gary Fossey, Vice President of Member Development, can be reached at email@example.com.