360 as of Easter Sunday…that’s the number of protective face masks two visionary Wentzville women have contributed to seven health care facilities in the past month. For Brenda Gittemeier and Tausha Koester, it was their step-daughter and daughter, respectively, who created the vision. The younger woman, a Registered Nurse in the ER at Big Barnes in St. Louis, had expressed the dire need for additional protection over their N95 masks when the COVID-19 cases started to increase at her worksite. She’d related that workers were wearing the same N95 masks for 12 hours at a time. So Brenda and Tausha united together to start sewing fabric masks for her and the other 85 nurses on her shift.
Brenda reached out to the community through the Next-Door website of 45 local neighborhoods and requested fabric donations for the masks, which are used as an additional barrier to protect the nurses and doctors. Brenda stated, “the floodgates opened, and what started as an initiative to supply 85 masks to Barnes ER grew into a community drive to provide masks to as many health care facilities as possible.”
Fabric donations came in and others ironed and cut pieces per the pattern she provided. Brenda assembled kits with elastic, fabric and directions, put them in a bin on her front porch, and volunteers stopped by to pick up supplies for about 20 masks per kit.
“We were humbled by the many people who responded to a call-of-action. Many volunteers have selflessly donated their time, resources and talents in order to give added protection to our front-line healthcare workers, and to those who are most vulnerable,” Brenda said. “We will continue to do all that we can to support our local healthcare workers and first responders. Many thanks to all our local volunteers for their ongoing support. Without each of you we wouldn’t be able to reach so many people in need. In times of uncertainty and sadness, the goodness of people is our beacon of light and hope!”
At this point masks have been provided to Delmar Gardens, Barnes Jewish ER, St. Luke’s RD, CenterPointe Hospital, Mercy Pediatrics, County View Nursing Home and Lutheran Senior Services.
Brenda and her husband have lived in Wentzville since 2006. Currently they reside in the Stone Meadows area. She has five children and two grandchildren and works full time in the supply chain industry. She said when all the COVID-19 crisis is past she plans to host a luncheon for all the volunteers as a “thank-you” for their contributions.