From scrub caps to Mask the Valley!
It began with a simple mission of making 100 caps for the nurses at the hospital. I posted the COVID Action Cowichan group on Friday, March 27 at 8:31am thinking it would be a portal for COVID19 information pertinent to the Cowichan Valley.
Isabel Rimmer, a doctor at the Cowichan District Hospital, tagged me in a post from Terra Lee from the Maple Bay discussion group. Terra was looking for some support to help some of the nurses who were unable to buy new scrub caps due to shortages.
The isolation period was still new and the shock of it all was beginning to wear off. People were becoming accustomed to the idea that dealing with this pandemic was going to be a long process.
The timing was right. As soon as the item was posted in the group, it began to roll and gather momentum. It’s hard to describe the velocity. It was a big wave. it washed over us, and swept away the despair and lack of agency in this process we are living through.
People poured into the group as though it was a Saturday night and the band was about to begin any minute. They were excited and it was as though a room was being filled. It was something to do. It was real. It was helpful. It would touch the people who we knew were there to keep us safe.
In four days, we had more than filled the original request of 100 or so caps and they were still pouring in. We were gaining 50 members a day, except for the day when 100 joined. I posted Terra’s item at 9:19 am, March 27, less than an hour after the group was started. By the 31st, we already had clear leaders in the group, had vetted patterns for newer volunteers, and had exceeded our capacity to manage the situation safely. It was a source of concern that Terra was meeting too many people.
The request for volunteers to manage the group was posted. Janice Smith and Ryna Bridges stepped up. They recruited volunteers for various distributed non-sewing tasks. We established a supply chain, handling protocols, drop sites, a list of volunteers, and an active, committed, and effective leadership team.
The caps help the caregivers feel the love and appreciation of the community. For those who sew, it is a means of showing gratitude and of being connected to each other even while separated. At that level…of making the caps, it is a mental health project for everyone in the equation; the team who generate the caps, and those who receive them. We are in this together, and stitching a safety net across the valley for the protection of all.
As the pandemic response evolves, it is clear that COVID19 is going to be around for quite a while. The period of isolation will go on for many months in various forms. The federal government has already budgeted for a four-month shutdown of the economy…or at least 4 months of CERB benefits. We need to learn to navigate life with it safely while ushering it out of our sphere of concern.
It’s time for the next level. If making caps is an act of support for those who will keep our lives safe and help return us to health when that is needed, then preventing illness is the next essential step. We want to Mask The Valley.
This means more than merely making the masks, we are committed to education to achieve compliance and total community engagement.
It’s a big goal, but a worthy one.