Not Pictured: Tiffanie Sisman, Candy Wong, Rita Lewis, Zoe Vallabha, Barbara Winer, Christina Davis, Sylvia McLeod, Mariche Rodriguez, Steven Toms
In early March, as the coronavirus began to spread in the community, healthcare facilities experienced a shortage of PPE, or personal protective equipment, that their frontline workers needed to protect themselves from the virus. The demand for PPE had increased so suddenly and universally that the supply chain was overwhelmed. Hospitals, police and fire departments put out requests to the public for disposable gloves, protective gowns, eye shields and face masks.
Everywhere, people with sewing skills who were quarantined in their homes began sewing masks to meet the unmet need. Christina Davis recognized the need to coordinate the makers’ efforts and ensure that there was a process for fulfilling requests. So Christina founded MoCo Mask Makers—originally MoCo-HoCo Maskmakers—to organize and mobilize volunteer mask makers in Montgomery and Howard Counties.
On April 13, 2020, when Montgomery County began requiring masks in retail shops, people suddenly found that although they needed face coverings to buy groceries or visit the doctor, masks were not available in stores. As a result, requests for masks soared. Simultaneously, more mask makers and administrative volunteers joined MoCo Mask Makers. From March through May, MoCo Mask Makers fulfilled every request, large and small.
Christina, Theresa, Zoe, Annilyn and Wahab gave their all to meet the most urgent needs of Montgomery County’s residents. The work that MoCo Mask Makers took on was monumental. Because of this work combined with the efforts of so many others in the community, our first responders and healthcare workers have been able to do their jobs and we have defied the bleak predictions of a full COVID-19 outbreak. MoCo Mask Makers has saved lives, eased minds and enabled county residents to conduct their essential business. It has given volunteers agency in a time of desperation. And it has formed a unique community of makers, administrative volunteers, artists, “craftivists” and techies.
At the time of writing, the pandemic and quarantine are still with us. However, the supply chain and the larger community have had time to adjust to the increased demand for PPE. While currently the demand for PPE still exceeds supply, the gap is narrowing. We can now buy masks in stores and online.
Its mission accomplished, MoCo Mask Makers is winding down and The Makana Project has been to entrusted Isabel Hernandez-Cata and Nikki-Ann Yee to continue its legacy.
The Makana Project aims to continue MoCo Mask Makers' mobilization of individuals and groups who lovingly donate their time and effort to make protective wear for anyone in the community who needs it. Project highlights include a centralized and user-friendly system for managing mask order fulfillment and more. Given the current times, and because widespread needs are less urgent, we will also emphasize the inclusive, educational, and community-building aspect of our activities through outreach and advocacy initiatives.