Between May 1-7, Hands On Nashville will highlight ways to stay connected and serve your neighbors even as our community honors social distancing guidelines. Check back here and on our social media channels to join in our #ShowOfHandsWeek: Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
MasksNOW is a nationwide grassroots organization that sprang up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The local chapter — MasksNOW TN — has received requests for more than 12,000 masks from more than 26 facilities and essential workers across Tennessee, including Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
You don’t have to be a sewist to volunteer with MasksNOW, as there are many types of roles that help power their efforts, including fundraising and administrative tasks. Register now and join the more than 118 Tennessee volunteers who already have signed up.
We talked with Brenda Gadd and Katrina Henderson, the Tennessee state leads for MasksNOW, to discuss their organization and how individuals can get involved.
Can you tell me more about what types of volunteer roles you’re looking for?
BG: We definitely need sewists. We’ve had over 10,000 calls for masks — and that’s being conservative — so we do need sewists doing the work, but there’s also distribution, and needing volunteers to pick up materials or have them mailed. The more sewists we get, the more capacity we will have and the more entities we can reach out to.
How did you begin recruiting volunteers for MasksNOW TN?
BG: We quickly found there are a lot of folks out there who want to help, or who are already sewing but they need to know how to connect with resources. That’s really what this does in a simple way — it allows the volunteers to take control of what they want to do and match with the need. Once we get a volunteer in our system, we can get you materials and match you with donations.
Can you tell me a little more about the masks?
KH: These masks are for anyone and everyone; we don’t discriminate about who we give them to. We are doing a lot of work with Room In The Inn, the homeless population in Nashville, and they’re all free.
BG: Right. We don’t sell them, these are all volunteer made, and we’ve been trying to collaborate with local businesses as well. We’ve set up partnerships in the community with people who donate one mask for every mask sold.
What can volunteers expect after they sign up?
KH: Volunteers should expect an email within 48 hours of signing up, welcoming them and telling them how it all works. They’re also welcome to reach out to me directly at KatrinaTN@masksnow.org if they have questions.
Note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
TODAY’S ACTIVITIES (MAY 4): Join the Mask Making Movement
As health officials recommend wearing face masks in certain public places, the need for widespread availability of masks is crucial. Here are three ways you can help:
- Volunteer: Organizations including MasksNOW and Make Nashville are sewing for a cause and aiming to slow the spread of COVID-19. If you’re interested in volunteering with one of these partner organizations, click here.
- Donate money or materials: Both MasksNOW and Make Nashville accept donations of money and items to help them meet their missions. Learn more about donating to Make Nashville here. Learn more about donating to MasksNOW here.
- Make your own masks for personal use: MasksNOW has provided patterns for those handy with a needle or without. And for some helpful safety guidelines, see the CDC’s recommendations here.
FRIDAY, MAY 1: Raise your hand and tell us why you choose to be a helper
SATURDAY, MAY 2: Sign up to serve as a volunteer in May
SUNDAY, MAY 3: Bring color and hope to a neighbor with flowers
TODAY: Join the local mask-making effort
TUESDAY, MAY 5: Give thanks for those on the front lines
WEDNESDAY, MAY 6: Find a virtual volunteer opportunity
THURSDAY, MAY 7: Support volunteerism and Hands On Nashville via The Big Payback