One mask at a time

A local group of community members continue to distribute handmade masks to areas in need through the Health Care Mask Collaborative.

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In a low income neighborhood in Maracaibo, Venezuela, medical personnel are distributing the masks that the Health Care Mask Collaborative made.

Sofia O'Keefe, Staff Writer

After seeing the unfortunate impacts of Covid-19, local politician Stephanie Oddo created a Facebook group known as Healthcare Mask Collaborative (HMC) to manufacture cloth masks in impoverished and high-risk areas.

To operate like a business, Oddo distributed varying positions for members at each of the distribution centers in nearby cities. If someone would like to help, the group would ensure that they got everything they need to start.

Since most people were stuck at home, the Facebook group became a popular outlook for community service. People looking for something to do enjoyed the project’s promotion of social distanced interactions while helping others.

“Our community needed this initiative just as much as the people receiving the masks,” Oddo said.

Inspired by the HMC, a Virginian furniture store began making about a 1,000 masks a week for the nonprofit. Even without the assistance, the group could deliver orders under 500 masks in about 24 to 48 hours.

“This experience reminded me of the power of giving,” Oddo said. “Seeing those people wearing our masks was a big reminder of my ability to serve our community and it was rewarding to know that we made a visible difference.”

Overall, the Health Care Mask Collaborative has distributed almost 50,000 masks, ranging from the USS Theodore Roosevelt in Guam, underprivileged villages in Venezuela and Perú, USNS Hospital Ship in New York, nursing homes in Los Angeles and Riverside, and the LAPD.

“If you’re doing anything for the right reasons then you will somehow always find success,” Oddo said.