George Heinemann, left, is joined by Johnson County Public Health Office assistant Mertis Taylor, for a photo, while delivering facemasks at the Johnson County Health Department in Mountain City, TN. The masks were designed, sewn, and donated to the facility by the Laurel Family and Community Education Club to assist with the mask shortage due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak. Photos by Tamas Mondovics.
By Sarah Ransom
As COVID-19 spreads, local communities have been rallying to meet the needs through a variety of service projects. One of these groups is the Laurel Bloomery Family and Community Education club that usually meets once a month to discuss various ways to serve their community and learn new skills. The meetings also provide the opportunity to develop friendships and strengthen the community. The women of Laurel decided with all the physical distancing that was going on, and how fast the germs were spreading, they wanted to put their sewing skills to work. Pat Heinemann, Marsha Blevins, Joanne Whetsell, Sue Neely, Ruth Thomas, and Monette Gentry have been busy sewing facemasks for local healthcare workers.
“It is truly exciting to see how much love is in one community, the support, and care displayed during times of crisis,” Heinemann said.
Mountain City Rehabilitation Center received thirty masks; five for the EMT’s and the health department received twelve. Neely is assisting and has cut over 100 masks for the other women to sew together. It is noteworthy that while the ladies are making masks in high quantity, there are many other individuals across the county sewing their personal masks and masks for donations.
“Watching citizens turn to each other, help one another, and lean on each other, even in times of physical distancing, is inspiring,” Heinemann said. “We become stronger when we work together.”
Once the virus passes, the FCE Club of Laurel plans to make lap protectors for the nursing home residents. For more information on how to sew these masks for oneself, healthcare providers, or other emergency staff, please contact the UT/TSU Extension Office for a pattern and many hands-on tips.