WESTFIELD, NJ — When Mayor Shelley Brindle called for Westfield residents to help make protective gowns for healthcare workers, one resident stepped in — resulting in over one hundred gowns being made.

“I was just in a position to be able to give,” said Mitch Gambert, who donated 320 yards of pre-cut fabric to help make 117 protective gowns for Genesis HealthCare's Westfield Center.

Gambert, the owner of Bespoke by Gambert in Westfield, said he repurposed his Newark based factory to produce masks since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and more recently, cutted fabrics to donate for gowns. 

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“It's a completely different animal, repurposing a factory from one product to another,” said Gambert, who typically makes custom-made cotton dress shirts. “It's definitely a different world.”

The donated fabrics were given to NJ Sews in Unity, a recently-founded group of volunteers helping to make handmade personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.

“This was really a godsend to be able to do something to help others with a purpose,” said Robin Marko, a retired Westfield Police Department employee and volunteer at NJ Sews in Unity, who was instrumental in creating gown patterns.

Marko said each gown took about two hours to make, among a group of about 16 volunteers. The group has sewn over 7,000 masks and other personal protective equipment for organizations in need of the gear.

 “I try to do at least 6 hours a day of cutting or sewing to keep up with the requests,” she said. 

The Westfield Police Department the brought the gowns to Genesis HealthCare's Westfield Center, a long-term care facility.

Brian Faszczewski, executive director of Genesis HealthCare's Westfield Center, in a statement thanked those who helped to produce the personal protective equipment.

“We truly appreciate the community's support,” Faszczewski said.

Email Daniel Han at  danieljustinhan@gmail.com | Twitter: @danieljhan_

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