|Hope spreads throughout community during pandemic posted on 05/01/2020|
In the past six weeks, Oregon residents and most of the
nation have ceased many daily activities and sheltered in place in response to
the spreading peril of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time Mount Hood
community members have found ways to offer support, from crafting protective
gear to limit the spread of the virus to offering messages of hope to fellow
community members suffering distress during these difficult times.
Kim Vasquez, a Zigzag resident, knew she was meant to help
when the medical community began calling for support due to a dangerously low
supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the state.
Vasquez began sewing at such a young age her grandmother
would put books under the sewing machine pedals so her feet could reach them.
“I’m a sewer,” Vasquez said. “I by nature always have piles
of fabric for future projects. Then one day it just happens to be for something
After learning of the shortage of PPE in the state, Vasquez
joined the “Crafters against COVID-19 *PDX*” Facebook group. The group was
started on March 18 and currently has more than 8,000 members in the region
producing non-medical grade PPE for use by patients in hospital settings to
prevent the spread of the illness. The group coordinates pick-up of the PPE
produced by Vasquez and other volunteers by the Multnomah County Health
Department for distribution to hospitals.
As of April 17, more than 13,000 masks have been contributed
by volunteers of the group to hospitals in need in the region.
“What I am doing is a very small drop in the bucket,”
Vasquez said. “The people on the front lines are the ones making the big
“Making a small contribution to make their lives somewhat
easier is but a benefit.”
Due to a shortage of elastic, Vasquez has switched to
producing “ear savers,” hand-sewn straps that cushion medical grade PPE masks
while wearing to prevent nurses from developing ulcers from the masks.
With the new national recommendations for individuals to
wears masks in public to limit transmission of the virus, Vasquez intends to
produce non-elastic masks for local use. She plans on reaching out to local
businesses with staff that face greater exposure to the public and offering
free supplies of masks.
“Even with the shortage (of elastic) I’ll keep going,”
In efforts to support locals dealing with despair brought on
by isolation and the current events, the bells of St. John of the Woods
Catholic Church in Welches and neighboring churches in Sandy have begun to ring
every evening at 6 p.m. Participating churches will continue to do so nightly
for the remainder of the pandemic.
“The purpose for ringing the church bells is to bring
comfort to those in distress, to bring hope to those who have lost all hope,
and to restore faith to those who have lost their way during this pandemic,”
said Ron Le Blanc, parishioner at St. John of the Woods, in a recent press
This nightly ringing of the bells is part of Le Blanc’s
“Bells for Hope” campaign. Le Blanc encourages other churches regardless of
denomination join in a “choir of church bells” to spread hope to community
members feeling isolated.
During an April 16 Clackamas County “Coronavirus Town Hall”
county commissioners praised community members for doing their part daily to
combat the spread of COVID-19 by abiding by state and county social distancing
“I want to say thank you to our constituents. Thanks for
staying home. Thanks for physical distancing,” commissioner Martha Schrader said.
“This is an unprecedented time in the history of Oregon and in the history of
By Ben Simpson/MT