Saturday, April 18, 2020

VNA Hospice among Health Agencies to Order Masks from Nonprofit Organized by Pacific Grove Teens

Given the nationwide shortage of personal protection equipment (or PPE), some health-related agencies have had to expand their search for items such as face masks.

Pacific Grove, CA, April 18, 2020 — Given the nationwide shortage of personal protection equipment (or PPE), some health-related agencies have had to expand their search for items such as face masks.

Central Coast VNA Hospice found some help from a Pacific Grove family who has launched an innovative nonprofit called Masks for Monterey County.

Toula Hubbard found a way to keep her kids active and connected through a Girl Scout service project. Her two teenagers created the nonprofit to connect mask makers with healthcare professionals, essential workers and those in need.

Toula, a life and wellness coach, lives in Pacific Grove with her husband Chris, her daughter Thalia, 16, and son Niko, 15.

“Gratitude and a sense of belonging are important to wellness,” she said. “So volunteering and gratitude are basic principles that clients learn to exercise and my children have been raised with.”

The registry at is two weeks old and already has more than 4,000 requests, with more and more seamstresses added each day.

Currently there is a worldwide shortage of protective face masks, which help slow the spread of the virus. VNA Hospice has ordered 300 masks from MFMC, and will be receiving them each week in batches of 30.

Most of the masks are typically made with 100 percent cotton fabric.

“Honestly it doesn’t matter what type of mask is made,” Toula said. “We just need the masks and we will match the mask type to the appropriate group.”

What they call AB masks have a spot for a filter, and are prioritized to health care workers. Some masks are simply cloth, great for those interacting with the public, such as grocery workers, postal workers and essential employees of all types.

“We have some people who have asked that masks be made to cover the N95 mask,” she said.

All masks are reusable, and each recipient is instructed to sterilize between each use.

When the pandemic ends, the family will collect any unused masks, sanitize them and repurpose them by donating to dialysis centers and other facilities that cater to the immune compromised.

A junior at Pacific Grove High School and a member of Girl Scout Troop 30626, Thalia had been keeping an eye out for potential Girl Scout Gold projects. She joined her brother, a freshman at PGHS and a member of Boy Scout Troop 43, in the endeavor.

“We have many friends who are health care workers, and essential employees, and the conversation started around how to get them resources to protect themselves and others if they are carriers without knowing,” Toula said.

She challenged her kids to take a look at the need and see what they could do to help. In the process, they learned new skills, among them creating a website and launching social media platforms. Each has worked to help draft marketing materials while problem solving the logistics of moving fabric donations and completed masks around the county.

So far, masks have been sent to healthcare workers, home-health workers, those passing out food to the needy, fire and police departments, essential county agency workers, grocery store and drug store workers, nonprofits and other agencies serving the community.

“Our intention is to also provide masks to the second wave of those in need including the vulnerable and elderly,” Toula said.

The family has friends who work and volunteer for VNA, a nonprofit close to their hearts.

“VNA provides so many services in the community, and you can see why their nurses and volunteers need the added protection,” she said.

All masks donated are free, but there are costs for materials and delivery, so the Hubbards have set up a donation portal on the website.

The lesson in this project is clear.

“Make a difference in the center of your circle, and the ripple effect will have others creating a similar circle with a similar ripple effect,” Toula said. “At the end of the day we are all in this together.”

Marci Bracco Cain
Chatterbox PR
Salinas, CA 93901
(831) 747-7455

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