FAMILY MASK FACTORY: In Gardiner, there are families that have lived, worked, married, and brought their children up here for generations. Gardiner resident Barbara Thorpe suggested that we track down Judy DePuy, the matriarch of one of these. During the early months of the pandemic, Judy was asked a pivotal question by her daughter, Jennifer; “Mom, you sew. Why don’t you make some of these masks for people?”
Judy came up with a three-layer, quilted prototype and gathered the hard-to-get supplies (100% cotton fabric, elastic, thread). Working by herself, it took 45 minutes to complete ONE. So her daughters, Denise and Jennifer, and at one point, Judy’s four-year-old great granddaughter, Kolby, manned an assembly line, which could complete one mask every 15 minutes. Judy’s husband, Bud DePuy, cut wire for the nose pieces.
Judy said, “For the six weeks we did it, we had so much fun! Doing this work really brought our family closer than ever.” 879 masks were made, and people picked them up from Judy’s mailbox.
My mind exploded. Let’s do the math: 879 masks at 15 minutes per mask is 13,185 minutes or 219.75 hours. What’s even more amazing is the love this multi-generational family poured into the endeavor. Early on, they considered that men, women and children might have preferences about pattern or color, so they did their best to not only supply them with free, life-preserving masks, but also to make them in colors and patterns people said they preferred. Word-of-mouth spread, and a varied group of first responders from the area, and as far afield as Albany and New York City, beneffited from the masks pulled out of the DePuy’s mailbox. The family’s mask factory is officially closed, but the generous spirit and love that opened it in the first place, remains.
MASK MAKERS OF THE GUNKS: Gardiner resident Nancy Cass tells us that Mask Makers of the Gunks arrived early—before Covid-19 affected any New Paltz or Gardiner residents. New York City was supplied with the basic essentials to cope with the coming onslaught, but local hospitals were left to ration what they had. Nurses, doctors, kitchen staff, nurses’ aides, hospital maintenance teams, nursing home attendants, day care staff, and other front-line workers were left to the good graces of communities like Gardiner, Wallkill, New Paltz, Highland and Modena.
In March, Christine Kelley, co-owner of Freefall Sangria, posted a message to the “Gardiner, NY” Face-book page about the need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for our area hospitals, thereby provoking a determined cast of hobbyists to dust off their sewing machines.
Not only did crafters get involved, local businesses jumped in. The back porch at Sharron Paddock’s Yoga Body Wellness became “Command Central,” a curbside pick-up and delivery site for supplies and completed masks. Skydive the Ranch donated cords and ties and produced the first video tutorial on making the masks. T&A HVAC , All County HVAC, Rycor HVAC, and Majestic’s Hardware donated filters. Residents donated bolts of fabric and other supplies.
The Hudson Valley Wine Shop, Ireland Corners General Store, and Majestic’s Hardware allowed the group to display masks for residents to “purchase” for a donation. This raised over $3,000, which was donated to the New Paltz Community Foundation, an organization that has been assisting local residents in need of meals.
Ultimately, many were donated to the Gardiner Fire Department as well as going to nursing staff at Vassar Brothers Hospital, Westchester Medical Center, Ellenville Hospital, and other essential workers.