DENVILLE, NJ -- With businesses in Denville Township closing temporarily during the COVID-19 crisis, some residents are encouraged to make a difference. One of those township individuals is Susan Banks, owner of Faith & Begorra, located on Broadway.
Banks and others wanted to do more than just stay home and avoid people.
“By [mid-March], I contacted my friend, Robin Gershaw, and we were off and running,” said Banks.
“I also contacted Brigitte Carucci Mesa of Two Girls Media to set up a Facebook page, Denville Cut & Sew. Brigitte was amazing to not only set it up but continues to help me figure it out.”
Faith & Begorra is a specialty boutique that sells Communion dresses, jewelry, pottery, soaps, fragrances and a variety of personalized gifts. The shop has been in operation since 1992 but had to close temporarily on March 14. This was a hard decision for Banks and her staff as they missed the busiest time for business between First Holy Communion and St. Patrick’s Day. As of now, the store staff is on furlough and future business is uncertain. Yet, Denville Cut & Sew has been keeping them busy.
“Our biggest issue was elastic,” said Banks.
“I ran around to purchase every yard in a seven-town radius. That evening, I ordered online and never got it. In the meantime, we found a source we could drive to and pick up. We were set with 5,000 yards of elastic. Each mask takes 14 inches of elastic. Our first 2,000 went to the hospital. I called to okay the style, fabric, elastic, etc. That took a week and a half. Next, we did police, fire, EMT, first responders, nursing homes, MD offices and a NICU. Now we have opened it up to the Denville residents and are slightly overwhelmed. We had to close down the orders at 1,000 masks and will reopen when we catch up in a few days. We just ordered another 3,000 yards of elastic today.”
Banks said that her desire to do such charity for her community first came to her during the flooding of Hurricane Irene and the town's response to it.
“[Faith & Begorra] was flooded out along with 350 homes and 70 other businesses after Hurricane Irene,” said Banks.
“It was not the first time we were flooded, but this time the damage was beyond words. We lost everything, except china and statues. The entire town came together to help the victims. I have always volunteered for all sorts of things in our town and community. This time I could not as I was one of the victims. It was the most humbling time of my life, to accept help from strangers who, without asking, came and just helped day after day for months.”
Other volunteers of Denville Cut & Sew, such as township resident Terry Shaffer, are happy to give back to their community during this pandemic as well.
"Denville Cut & Sew has been getting countless masks to places, like St. Clare’s Hospital and the local nursery. It’s amazing the job that [Denville Cut & Sew has] done, and there’s a lot of coordination that’s been running very smoothly for all involved,” shared Shaffer.
As the COVID-19 crisis drags on, Banks and her army of sewers continues to pack boxes full of masks and will never stop until they hear the news that the virus has passed.
“I always said to my husband, I will NEVER go through another flood, having no idea a pandemic was in our future that would prove to be even more devastating for so many more people in so many ways,” said Banks.
“This was a time I could give back to Denville, the town that helped me get back on my feet, so here we are. I feel humbled by the appreciation of everyone who receives the masks. I love a good challenge, and this is a good one. The team is amazing. I could not do it without all the wonderful people who are helping who I have never met or seen. It keeps my mind off my locked small business of 29 years. I know it will be okay in the end. I am ready for the challenge. To quote a very dear friend and late business owner, George Johnson of Flowers by Candle Lite, ‘It will all work out. It always does.’”
To learn more about Denville Cut & Sew, and how to get involved, visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?id=104926831151783&story_fbid=108632580781208.
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