The “mask makers” of Pottawattamie County are certainly inspired, but none more than Cathy Fenn and Danea Buffington at the Farm Service Cooperative in Oakland! Lots of stories are coming out about the sewers in the area making masks for healthcare professionals and custodians. Veva Larson, Vicki Palmer, Coke and Shona Weirich, Susan Bentley, Marilyn Mickey, and many more are putting their skills to work, but Cathy and Danea have taken it to a whole new level!
Cathy is the office manager for Co-op in Oakland and Danea is transitioning into her job as Cathy prepares to retire. The twosome heard about the need for masks because Cathy’s daughter and daughter-in-law both work at the Nebraska Med Center and had mentioned the nation-wide crisis. Cathy knew she had to do something and Danea was on board.
Right now, the Farm Service Co-op in Oakland is in what Cathy refers to as the “calm before the storm.” Anhydrous season is about to begin and it gets crazy around there, but for now, it’s too wet and the usual, daily foot traffic is light due to the rules surrounding COVID-19. So it only seemed right that they set up a sewing operation right there in the Co-op office! Cathy and Danea’s boss, Shawn Macha, was in full agreement. His wife works at the Atlantic Hospital and he knew the idea was a solid one.
The ladies have their sewing machines set up and in between customers and billing, they sew away! Cathy watched YouTube videos and took pieces from them to make her own pattern. She said everybody needs to do what they can in a situation like this! She was pleased to say that a friend’s 94-year-old grandma had asked for the pattern so she could do her part, too.
The twosome has already sewn 35 masks as of Friday and are set to make more now that they acquired a new shipment of elastic. The masks take pipe cleaners for the hem over the nose, elastic to keep them on, and furnace filters. Some people can just use basic fabric masks, but for those on the front lines of this, the duo sews in a pocket of sorts that holds furnace-filter material. Cathy mentioned that you have to purchase the high-grade 1900 series furnace filters for it to work effectively, but they cut the filters up and slide in a piece of the filter and it can be replaced regularly to keep out the toxins associated with the virus.
Cathy’s daughter distributes the masks as soon as they get them made and they have sent some to the hospital in Atlantic as well with Shawn’s wife, but I hear there’s also a pick-up location in Hancock for the Harlan Hospital. If interested, let us know and we will get you in contact with the right people.
But for now, hats off or should we say, masks off to Cathy and Danea and all the other “mask makers” along with Farm Service Coop, a proactive business, for being some of Pott. County’s finest! Thanks for being Pott. Co. examples in a crisis!
To learn more, check out Farm Service Coop on Facebook.
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