Stories of Serving One Another – Making Masks for Heroes

Times like this can bring the best out in humanity. While we are staying safe at home, we are investing in what matters most, each other.

This crisis has taught me so many lessons already, and I know there are more to come. Stillness is not easy to come by in our season of life. With two very active boys, our lives are busy with sports, family activities, school, and travel. This has taught me to be still and listen to them. We have had the best conversations about all kinds of things…from the ridiculous to the serious, I know them better because of this.

It’s also refreshed my sense of gratitude. I have an overwhelming sense of gratitude to all the essential employees like healthcare workers, truck drivers, city employees, postal workers, and those working hard to keep their restaurants open to deliver food.

We are seeing our own Sawgrass family rise to the challenge of caring for one another. Today’s story is about a group of women led by Teri Trotta and Cheryl Maduzia who are dedicated to keeping our healthcare workers safe by sewing masks and delivering them to various organizations in Jacksonville.

Born out of necessity

The fire was started after Teri had an alarming conversation with her niece, Karen, who is a neuro/OR nurse at North Shore Hospital in Manhasset, NY. She expressed concern over an impending mask shortage and fear of exposing her two and a half year old daughter. This got Teri thinking about family members working in local hospitals and possibly facing these same conditions in the near future. She knew she had to do something, and she began to research how other hard hit areas are handling mask shortages. She says, “By the grace of God I found a group of diligent, committed mask makers in Washington State. I joined their group and the founder directed me to homemade masks, materials and other creative suggestions during this time of supply shortages in Washington State. I felt certain I could make these masks and help the front line workers, like my niece, if the demand in Florida became anything like Washington.”

Sawgrass Making masks for heroes

The next morning, she created a Facebook page and called a few friends. And just like that, Ponte Vedra – Making Masks for Heroes was born.

It takes a team

Teri wears many hats within the group. Not only does she sew about 30-40 masks per day, but she’s also involved in community outreach, buying supplies, speaking with potential participants, making kits for stitchers, preparing kits for delivery, delivering finished product, exploring new prototypes of masks, and accepting donations.

A task like this takes a large team of committed individuals, and Cheryl Maduzia is one of those rock stars! According to Teri, “Cheryl stepped up the moment I sent out an invitation to join the group. She runs the day to day business of keeping everything moving. She does community outreach, empowers stitchers and cutters, schedules pickups and deliveries of masks, she’s our technology guru, and accepts donations. She’s powerful!” Teri and Cheryl Facetime every morning around 6:30am to talk about the plan for the day including sewing goals, deliveries, donation requests, etc.

Susan Dana is also an integral part of the team. She “sources materials for us, checking for best price and availability, does community outreach, delivers completed masks, creates forms to keep us organized, and does follow up on any matter needed. She is selfless and committed,” says Teri.

Others involved in stitching and cutting include:
Terri Allison, Lake Julia Drive South
Barbara Hill, Northgate
Margie Stewart, Sandpiper Cove
Maria Wilson, Northgate
Janice Sur, Lakeside TPC
Nichola McPherson, Fairfield
Beth DeLand, Jax Beach
Leigh Rollins, The Preserve
Cynthia Pirello Grubisa, Fairfield
Julia Sweet, Fairfield
Kathy Bucciaglia Tracy, Palencia
Marie Kline Massie
Dorothy Flannery, Willow Pond
Cinty Price, The Plantation
Katherine Ham

Who’s benefiting from the masks?

There are so many organizations benefiting from the masks that Teri and her team are producing.

Here are just a few:
Rainbow Pediatrics – 3 locations
Baptist Primary Care
Meals on Wheels
MD Anderson – Oncology Dept.
Jacksonville Orthopedics-South
Adam Acres & St. Augustine Groups – Essential Care for the Cognitively Disabled
UP Shands – Gainesville
Regis Park Nursing Home
Baptist Health
St. Vincent Ascension
UF Oncology – Fernandina Beach
Memorial Hospital
Nemours JAX
Ramco – our Sawgrass Security team through the efforts of the Sawgrass Association

Just as these organizations are benefiting, Teri and her team are seeing personal benefits as well. According to Teri, “The unexpected benefits this Mission has given to many involved are a sense of joy and purpose in the face of uncertainty and fear, a deeper connection and interpersonal relationships during a time of social distancing and isolation, and an ability to make a profound difference even though we have never dealt with anything like COVID-19 and its uncontrollable nature. Through our connection via texts, Facetime, emails, dropping off or picking up materials, we have formed a team of deeply committed, caring humanitarians who not only serve the community, but look after each other as well.”

How can you help?

If you would like to help Teri and her team, contact Teri Trotta at 631-742-1350 or Cheryl Maduzia at 972-213-7303.

Teri and her team are “here to serve and we will continue to work hard producing masks until COVID-19 has passed and life returns to its new normal. I am proud to share that in the two short weeks that we have been a team, we have produced and delivered over 750 masks. The team is a group of miracle workers!”

Thank you, Teri and Cheryl (and your entire team!) for making a difference in our community. You saw a need and did something about it. I want to encourage all of us to be on the lookout for needs in our Sawgrass community. Is there an elderly neighbor you can help? Do you have a gift or talent that you can put to use during this crisis to uplift others?

When we seek opportunities to do good, it’s amazing how many come our way.

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