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KPH Employee Sews Masks in Effort Against COVID-19

During the COVID-19 crisis, KPH remains on the job as essential workers. But we recognize the importance of diligent cleaning and hand washing, social distancing, and protective masks. After the work day, one of our staffers heads home to sew hard-to-find masks to help others. 

Asssitant PM Colleen Lake learned to sew from her now-86-year-old mom. So when COVID-19 threatened the elderly, Colleen sprung into action to make her mom a mask.  Research led Colleen to pick a design that would conform to the face, had filter material to make it more effective and could easily be cleaned and sterilized in a microwave. 

“I thought I would make a dozen of them…. For my relatives who are older, for my neighbors and close friends….” Now, more than 350 masks into the process, Colleen routinely sews for 4 hours on week nights and up to 14 hours per day on the weekends trying to keep up with demand.

“I felt so helpless when the virus started spreading.  I’m not a doctor or a nurse, but I am considered essential for KPH.  I help with important construction projects such as the fire station at the 128th Air Refueling base and work at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Madison.  I’m not staying home, I simply cannot, so to offset my lack of self-quarantine, I felt like I should wear a mask when I am out and I should make them for people who want them to protect themselves.”

Word of mouth is the only way people find her, but Colleen continues to sew, sending masks to anyone who wants them via first class mail and asking for donations to offset the cost of postage. “I ask for $3 but most people are happy to send me $5 or even $10 per mask.  They are so happy to get them.”

Colleen has also donated more than 50 of her masks, at no cost, to homes for the elderly for the staff and residents to wear.  PPE is being reserved for hospitals, so the elderly in memory care facilities are especially vulnerable.  “If one of my masks spares just one person from catching or spreading this virus, then all of this work is worth it.”

For the pattern to make your own, visit:  https://www.statethelabel.com/pages/masks

Colleen modified that design to include a layer of hydro-knit fabric which can be seen here: https://www.businessinsider.com/homemade-mask-using-hydro-knit-shop-towel-filters-better-2020-4

From all of us at KPH, we are so proud of Colleen and all that she does at work and outside of it.