Community Efforts in Fighting the Coronavirus


Nancy Vaughn

Community members have helped sew handmade masks and other PPE.

As the number of COVID-19 cases tops three million internationally, community members have been working hard to contribute to the fight against the pandemic. 

Along with other high school students across the country, Gunnar Overstrom ’21 started Masks for More, an initiative to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to those in need. Masks for More works to help local communities in the New York area by collecting donations of mask-making supplies and encouraging others to sew masks. Overstrom believes, “[It] is crucial for our generation to continue to make our mark on the world and this is a way for us to do so. This kind of grassroots initiative brings together communities and people to create stronger bonds and more interconnected lives for all of us.” 

Faculty members, staff, and their family members have also been working hard as “Sew Fairies” to make masks for community members and local hospitals. After the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended wearing cloth masks in public areas, Ms. Nancy Vaughan, wellness administrator, felt that there was a need for masks in the community. Community members volunteered to assist and have so far made over 260 masks with filter pockets. Some of these participants include Dr. Marta Eso, instructor in mathematics; Reka Ladanyi ’22; Ms. Lisa Fenton, learning specialist; Ms. Marcie Wistar, director of student activities; Ms. Amber Jordan, assistant to the dean of community life & dean of residential life; Ms. Jessica Craig, director of prospect management and research; and Ms. Nancy Vaughan, wellness administrator. 

Ms. Craig has contributed to the mask-making effort and has made over 130 masks for her friends, family, and the community. Ms. Craig, said, “[In the midst of these uncertain times], I love that I am able to help the Hotchkiss community and my wider community. [Even] small actions can make a big difference.”  

Ms. Vaughan reflects, “It was a giant leap of faith on my part. I knew we had some employees that would give their time, but I was humbled by the generosity of these women.”

The “Sew Fairies” just started a project to make isolation gowns for healthcare organizations in the Northwest Connecticut area. The administration contributed $500 to purchase 100 yards of 1ml PUL fabric. The team hopes to make 40 gowns out of the fabric and start deliveries within the coming week. Ms. Vaughan said, “Initiatives like this do not stress the supply chain and allow the community to come together. Being part of a community means reaching out with whatever your skill-set is to help each other.”