A Downtown Eastside charitable organization has enlisted a taskforce in order to sew hundreds of masks for its frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Union Gospel Mission notes that while most of the country stays home, its workers continue to serve the community's most vulnerable people. And, since there is a worldwide shortage of personal protective equipment, it has created the "UGM Maskforce" in order to provide cloth masks for its workers.
The "maskforce" consists of staff, volunteers, and some formerly homeless guests.
"A committed team of staff, volunteers and even formerly-homeless women from our Sanctuary stabilization program have transformed their homes into sewing rooms where they are each putting together cloth masks with brightly-coloured patterns to bring some joy and cheer to our community during an already stressful and anxious time," said Jeremy Hunka, Union Gospel Mission spokesperson.
"This makes it possible for our frontline staff to wear masks while interacting with our guests. Although we know these masks themselves won’t prevent COVID-19, they may help prevent the spread of ‘droplets,’ discourage or prevent staff from touching their face, and even just be visual cues to our homeless guests that we are taking every precaution we can to keep everyone safe."
Hunka adds that the organization is using the masks with caution as suggested by the Government of Canada, and including instructions on how best to use them whenever they are handed out. He notes that hundreds of masks have been made since last week, with some of the team making upwards of 75 masks each. What's more, some of the formerly homeless guests or those with experience living in addiction will also have a chance to earn some income by making the masks.
While the maskforce already has enough volunteers, the Union Gospel Mission encourages donations to keep its essential programs running during this especially difficult time.