Local heroes are making a difference every day in the fight against Coronavirus. We’re shining the spotlight on someone you nominated to raise awareness about their community relief efforts and inspire all to do the same.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, researchers and communities are looking for ways to slow the spread of the virus globally. Fortunately, wearing a mask correctly can help — especially when it’s difficult to practice social distancing. Joyce Fulton and The Sewists of San Diego saw the need for masks and quickly began to deliver. With the help of their community and families, Fulton made a difference in her community and around the country.
Fulton, who is also a nurse, became aware of the shortage of masks at work. As the virus continued to spread, she and her colleagues were concerned about the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) as essential workers. She found that the concern went beyond her community in a Facebook group where fellow nurses shared similar concerns. Some reported not having masks at all.
“I was concerned that medical professionals and first responders would run out of masks and that the ones being manufactured – even in the repurposed manufacturing places – would not arrive very quickly,” Fulton said.
Seeing the need for masks in her community, Fulton started back sewing after 15 years. She rallied women with sewing skills who had recently helped at Rock Church events who were eager to help. The group, better known as The Sewists, started creating masks immediately to fulfill the essential workers’ and community’s needs — including the less fortunate and immunocompromised.
“I believe God led me to the idea to not only make masks for those I love but to contact all the sewing ladies I know and see if they would like to help in this effort,” Fulton shared.
The ladies quickly requested patterns, fabric, supplies and direction to start sewing masks immediately. Fulton led the group, bought the fabric and solicited fabric donations to quickly fulfill the needs of her community and keep their minds off the devastating news of the pandemic.
Separately, Mrs. Fulton’s husband was also busy on a mask project. The Rock Church worked with the Department of Health to renovate N95 masks. Community members joined the church’s initiative by working in shifts to repair the N95 masks with disintegrated bands. Their hard work resulted in 300,000 masks being restored for the county to distribute to local hospitals and first responders.
The Sewists and their families eventually created their own mask styles and patterns for children and adults. Those who couldn’t sew helped out in other ways, including cutting out the fabric while others focused on more complicated medical masks.
As a result, The Sewists quickly became busy with a heavy influx of orders and deliveries to make throughout the community to hospitals, hospice homes and nursing facilities. Masks were even shipped around the country to help slow the spread of the virus and meet the heavy demand for masks. Fulton oversaw The Sewists and their delivery process all while working as a full-time nurse.
“My biggest takeaway is that responding to the need before us is the thing that we all can do. I felt like I not only gained purpose and helped people greatly during this pandemic, but I took others with me who felt the same way,” she added. “The people who received our masks were overwhelmed with gratitude. What a pleasure to be a part of that. I made new friends I treasure. I recently took down my machine and feel like I completed a project well. My leadership skills were challenged and sharpened, and I am grateful.”