SOMERS, N.Y. - As the coronavirus pandemic hit our area and stay-at-home orders were put in place, groups of Somers residents quickly organized into volunteer brigades in order to lend a helping hand. 

Hope Ross Mazzola, the administrator of the Somers Moms Facebook page—a 2,000-person, Somers resident-only private group—put a call out for people who could help provide food shopping services for residents of Heritage Hills. 

She said that the members of the online group that was formed in 2008 reacted quickly to the call and many offered to do whatever was needed. Mazzola, a veteran real estate agent with many clients who live in Heritage Hills, immediately knew she had to do something when the lockdown began.

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“I was checking in, seeing if my clients needed anything and letting them know I was here. Then I started the conversation on Somers Moms to let members know that there are seniors and others who are immunocompromised who might need help,” she said. “And lots of people started responding and they wanted to help.”

A list of available shoppers was created and Mazzola began coordinating and matching those who needed goods with volunteers. The recipient pays for the groceries, but due to social distancing, accepts the food without making contact with the shopper (who takes all precautions with gloves and mask).  

There are already stories of wonderful connections that have been made. 

“There is somebody who is 92 years old and the shopper promised that after all this is over, they will go dancing,” Mazzola said.

During the crisis thus far, about 50 shoppers from the group have made 75 to 100 trips for thankful residents. 

It then came to Mazzola’s attention that local health care workers were also in need of food items for their long shifts, so she expanded the effort to include buying and distributing snacks and packaged items to area hospitals, senior centers and other facilities. 

“I added them to the list–—the medical community,” she said, and has now delivered to Northern Westchester Hospital, Putnam Hospital, Westchester Medical Center, Four Winds Hospital and others. “We have gotten lots of donations, both in terms of food, money and help from Somers Moms.”

Meanwhile, Somers Parents, another large Facebook group with about 3,000 members, led by its administrator Sarena Meyer, came together to form the Somers Mask Army, a group that is “sewing our hearts out to help protect from COVID-19 with homemade masks, headbands and whatever else is needed.” 

According to Meyer, they have already created and distributed 500 washable masks and 150 headbands for hospitals, health care workers, first responders and residents. 

“We’ve got a dozen or so people making masks—both the civilian kind for people to wear as well as for health care workers, which are made with a space for a N95 mask to fit in,” she said. The headbands include large buttons to provide the wearer with a place to affix their masks, to avoid ear irritation. Local residents have been donating fabric, supplies and sewing expertise to fashion the items. 

With the CDC and local officials recommending broad mask usage, Meyer wants to keep working with volunteers to create as many as possible. 

“I just passed one to the UPS driver; he was delivering something for me with gloves on, but no mask, and I gave him the most masculine one I’ve got.”

The mother of three who works for IBM during the day considers the Somers Mask Army her therapy. 

“People react differently to this whole pandemic that we are dealing with—this is allowing me to cope with what is going on in the world,” Meyer said.

To make a mask or to donate, help or sew, visit Somers-Mask-Army on Facebook. To donate or help out as a shopper, contact hopemazzola@gmail.com.

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