WOOD-RIDGE, NJ - One local business owner whose shop was shuttered as a non-essential business, has found a new mission in making masks for first responders and healthcare workers.
When Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order 107 shutting down all but "essential businesses" on March 21, Ilse's Tailoring Shop on Valley Boulevard had to close. Yi Wah Kam has been the shop's owner for 20-plus years. According to Rowena Kam-Bergman, her mother was on the verge of prom and wedding season, but couldn't work because of the shutdown.
Kam-Bergman saw there was a need for masks for healthcare workers and first responders and suggested it to her mother. Initially, she was not receptive to it. After a bit of encouragement, her mother began to study YouTube videos, and through some trial-and-error, she applied her year's of skills, and has created her own protective mask for healthcare workers to wear over the N95 or surgical masks. Kam's masks can be washed and reused.
Her new mission now has become a family effort, as Rowena, her daughter, and Chloe, her granddaughter and other family members have pitched in.
Her first set of masks were donated to a New York VA hospital. Rowena said she'll be dropping masks at a drop box in Paramus for hospitals, and is also reaching out to Wood-Ridge EMS. She said her mother will try to make 30 masks a day.
"Now she's all about it," said Rowena. "The family can help, and she has a purpose."
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