Million Mask Update – It Takes a Village

I used to think the old adage “It takes a village” applied only to parenthood. However, as I have discovered, this adage is also applicable when one is faced with a crisis such as the world is facing today. With the pandemic still in full swing, grassroots efforts to help stop the spread of the virus are crucial. However, grassroots efforts are only as successful as the volunteers organizing and contributing to the efforts. In the Million Mask Challenge, we have been blessed with incredible leaders and volunteers, and, as a result, have been achieving amazing things! One month ago, I contacted Jamie Moses asking if she could help recruit volunteers. Jamie, with her innate ability to marshal forces and galvanize action, rose to the challenge beautifully, and included our plea for help in the CFAWL Newsletter. Literally within hours of distribution, I began receiving texts and emails with volunteers. We received volunteers for seamstresses, including Onchantho An, Nancy Blastic, Danielle Harris, Christine Markham, Winifred Quinlan, Bethany Szewczyk (volunteering her mother!), Mary Walter, and Joanna; and volunteers for cutters, including Tina Leger and Leia Leitner. Additionally, separate from the volunteers I received, but still as part of the Million Mask Challenge, Jamie Moses, Suzanne Gilbert, Kristin Royal, and Barbara Leach, among others, volunteered as part of Beth Masi Hobart’s cutting crew to help cut material donated by Orlando City Soccer. (See the latest issue of Orange Appeal for a lovely article about these efforts!).

Incredibly, we have still been receiving volunteers from the CFAWL Cares Newsletter. Most recently, I received an amazing email from Jane Goddard at Ball Janik LLP. Jane had heard from a ‘friend of a friend’ about a defunct underwear manufacturer in Georgia who was willing to give elastic to mask makers. Jane immediately thought of us and asked whether we could use any elastic, to which I enthusiastically responded, “Yes, yes, and yes!”. Within hours, Jane connected with Jacquelyn Lewis and drove to Debary to sort and package up elastic to provide to the Million Mask Challenge. Jane then assisted in allocating elastic to groups in Central Florida and other groups in need, including a group of seamstresses making masks for the Navajo Nation in the Southwest. Continuing to go even above and beyond, Jane personally mailed two boxes of elastic by priority mail to the other groups. Pictures are included below to give an idea of the scope of this elastic donation!

Fighting this pandemic has turned into a marathon rather than a sprint. Especially as businesses reopen, every person should have a mask to wear in public to continue to flatten the curve. We are still in need of seamstresses, cutters, and donors of time and money, so please feel free to text me at 863-513-5181 or email me at LeighAnneVancol@gmail.com if you can help. I, personally, cannot thank you all enough for being part of this village, whether through direct service or through your thoughts, prayers, and encouragement. Some days, the task is daunting. Some days, I despair and think, “How can one person possibly make a noticeable difference?” But then, I think of you, dear reader, and my spirit lightens, and I know that because of you, I am NOT alone. I am NOT one person. We ARE a village. We are CFAWL Strong!

Thank you, Leigh Anne Vancol