A Breath of Life
By Sheryl Young, San Mateo County Program Director
COVID-19 has raged through our country leaving everyone scrambling for protective face masks. However, there has been a shortage of face masks, especially for farmworkers and grocery store clerks, and the people who are doing deep cleaning – our essential workers.
Belinda Arriaga, Director of ALAS, quickly formed a team to start a special campaign, Un Respiro de Vida (A Breath of Life) to make face masks with a start-up grant from PVF. Within 3 days, 10 women who had lost their jobs due to COVID-19 business closures, started working around the clock to make masks on donated sewing machines.
Zenon Barron, Cultural Arts Director for ALAS with a doctorate in art from Mexico, designed the washable masks with ample coverage and created tutorials on What’s App for the seamstresses. Result: 2000 masks are being made each week!
Joaquin Jimenez, Community Outreach worker for ALAS and Spanish teacher travels to the farms and businesses to hand out the masks to workers. Belinda says that “everyone has fears about becoming infected and becoming unemployed, and exposing the virus to their family members.”
BABR (Bay Area Border Relief) is supporting this effort by asking for donations for masks underwriting the cost of free masks for others in need. Children’s masks are also available.
Big thanks to Cynthia Schuman, who immediately jumped to help fund this project said, “It feels so good to do something that can make such a difference.” PVF is proud to quickly support ALAS in finding a way to solve an immediate and urgent need within the Coastside community.