What started as a Facebook friendship between two moms on “RocklandMommiesOG” Page has grown into a partnership that’s made breathing a bit easier for 10,000 Rockland’s EMS workers, police departments, fire departments and others on the front line of Pandemic 2020.
Back in March, when news of the virus was coming in hourly, Tina LoPresti and Samantha Roffman wondered where the many masks that were needed would come from, since supplies were already becoming scarce—or priced so high, they were out of reach for many.
As a result, Facebook’s “The Masked Warrior Project” site was born and has blossomed into a full-time volunteer project for the moms and a group of dedicated volunteers who have since come on board with them—from sewing machine repair advice to production and distribution—and those wizards with the Singers.
Over 100 women in Rockland County are working full speed on filling requests. They are joined, added LoPresti, by over 2,000 women from across the country who have been making masks and donating them to areas where the need is great—and Rockland is certainly among them at the present time.
To date, more than 10,000 handmade masks have been distributed throughout the county’s five towns. The recipients are the EMS workers, police departments, fire department volunteers, ambulance corps volunteer and Rockland County Meals on Wheels and other local non-profits.
The two virtual friends who became “mask-to-mask” teammates are also humbled by the outpouring of love and support for the project. “These women from Rockland and across the country who are sewing masks have turned this into a labor of love for our community,” LoPresti told The Rockland Times.
Among those donating to the Masked Warrior Project are:
- Lo-Tor Storage’s Tabbie Champeau has generously helped store donated materials and created a website, lowtorstorage.wixsite.com/maskedwarriors and an Instagram page for the group.
- Pins and Needles Pro owner Martina Williams, mask designer and tutorial creator for how to sew them.
- Sewing Machine repair lessons given by Bill Hancock.
- Sharyn McTigue, Amanda Stern-Turek and Larissa McLoughlin are in charge of picking up and dropping off collection bins that are located in West Haverstraw, Suffern, Stony Point, Nanuet and Clarkstown at their respective Town Halls.
- Facebook group moderators Diane Chelaru, Christina Conciator, Victoria Koesterich, Dara R. Alana Rou and Cara Wong.
Stony Point Supervisor Jim Monaghan and the Town Board honored the two women at their virtual bi-weekly meeting via Zoom on Tuesday, May 12, presenting The Masked Warrior Project’s founders with a Certificate of Recognition for an outstanding contribution to the community.
“Tina and Samantha are wonderful,” said Monaghan. “Since our Town Hall is an historic building, we are not as constrained as others when it comes to accessibility. We are able to use a front window for residents to walk up and talk to us. We have a bin on the porch where people are dropping off masks. The ladies are making sure the bins are emptied and replaced so the cycle can begin again. It’s been great to see the people turning out with their donations to help our residents and EMS workers.” (As soon as plexiglass shields are installed inside Town Hall, added Monaghan, t will be easier for residents to access town departments from inside the building.)
Every Town Hall –Ramapo (Suffern), Stony Point, Orangeburg, Clarkstown (New City) and Haverstraw –have a mask collection bin for volunteers.
The Masked Warrior Project is helping supply not just EMS and essential service town employees, but nurses and staff at both Montefiore Nyack Hospital and Suffern’s Good Samaritan Hospital as well. The next order The Masked Warrior Project is seeking to accommodate is Helen Hayes Hospital. The legion of seamstresses who are on a different front line—keeping the supply chain moving—are currently ramping up to meet the need at Helen Hayes Hospital and creating pediatric masks for both hospitals and local clinics.
Please join The Rockland County Times in giving a hearty “shout out” to The Masked Warrior Project and its founders. If you’re interested in the project, contact them at www.lowtorstorage.wixsite.com/maskedwarriors.