BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - BH Neighbors Helping Neighbors was the coordinated efforts by some residents to help during the trying times as we went into quarantine. A network of neighbors organized quickly by establishing a phone number where people could reach out for help with shopping, technology troubles, some conversation and to order free homemade masks.
The mask effort was quite involved. The production of the masks was the first step, then the masks had to be bagged and matched with directions for washing. A localized “depot” was set up on a front porch. Phone orders were taken and logged and then no-contact deliveries were assigned. People delivering the masks had to follow protocol learned from a training video in order to protect the health and safety of the recipients.
The backbone of the mask production was Amalia Medieros who sewed masks for the cause. Medeiros started making cloth masks when Joe Savino, of Adams Fine Clothing in New Providence, asked the public for donations of materials to make masks for Overlook Hospital, as there was a shortage at the time.
“I learned to sew from my mother and have always liked to make clothes and redesign clothing,” said Meieiros. She never made a mask, but learned how to do it from watching a YouTube video. She made 72 masks over a few weeks to be donated to the hospital. When John Leo started BH Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Medeiros started making masks for the senior citizens in town. She was motivated to help people that couldn't get masks, but needed one to go out.
Medeiros was very green in her mask production, as her mask materials came from sheets, shirts, and other fabrics that no one was using anymore. When she ran out of elastic for the ear loops and couldn’t get more due to shortages, she took elastic out of some pants and repurposed them.
“One day I was in ShopRite and I was so excited to see one of my masks on a shopper,” she said. “My contribution helped her get out of the house.” All in all, Medeiros made 247 masks.
For more information on how cloth masks protect against the spread of Coronavirus 19 please link here Face covering protect the spread-CDC.