“Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world,” said Dolores Huerta. These words ring in my ears, especially during these times. Especially in the midst of our personal journey that has been affected by this Covid-19 pandemic. In my humble opinion, the key is to stay centered, focused yet take this time to reflect on what truly is important and what this experience is teaching us as individuals and as a society. Think about it. This has changed the world and continues to impact millions. It has affected our home and has forever changed us.
You see we heard about the shelter in place and diligently complied. My two teenage daughters, husband, and I began to adjust to this new norm in the first weeks of the quarantine. Then something happened smack in the middle of our fear. I learned that some nurses in Roseville, CA were reaching out to anyone in the community that could sew because they were in need of someone who could sew them some fabric masks due to the lack of protective gear. They were now being asked to recycle the paper masks they were given per day. My daughters and I couldn’t believe our ears and so this is how the idea was born to reach out to the community, everyone or anyone, willing to help so that these front-line healthcare workers could be assisted. We knew nothing about fear like these individuals and that changed our new stance and mindset and had a moment to reflect on who truly are hit the hardest.
We started, just the three of us (my two teenage daughters Corina and Layla and I), cutting the fabric and sewing face masks to supply that specific hospital. Then I reached out to the community and the out-pour was amazing. I have been greeted by boxes of donated fabric and hundreds of threads (Thank you Laura Mendoza Quinsenberry). We have individuals like Beth Trujillo and daughters Jordanna and Olivia who came forward and have volunteered to cut the fabric and to prep the masks. We have individuals like Beckie Marini who stepped up and let us borrow sewing machines. We have one businesswoman by the name of Heather Rosales who makes costumes and wedding dresses and donates to this effort as well. We have amazing volunteer seamstresses like the talented Leticia Sesma, Olga Sanchez and Mauro Rosales Jr. We continue to receive generous donations to purchase not only fabric but other supplies that are needed by these healthcare workers. We have continued on this beautiful quest.
Most recently we have partnered with a small business owner who graciously let us tinker with a 3D printer and yesterday as a matter of fact the machine was programmed, and we hope to begin production of plastic face shields. It would truly amazing to get more 3D printers and get more shields made. This is our area of expertise both my husband Gilbert David Gaska and I. Technology. So we are super excited to get this part going.
I share this with you because in the beginning of this COVID-19 Shelter In Place I was very concerned like I am sure many of you were and are. I felt like my hands were tied and there was nothing I could do to help but the reality is we all can help especially during these trying times. The very act of staying in place is HUGE.
As a Latina, I have always seen the impact that we as Latinos have made. I feel strongly that we are a dynamic group that works together and continues to impact our society. One of the organizations that I lined up to mainstream the donations so that we remain transparent in our efforts was the Supernova Foundation. The organization created by a young man who I met when he was a student at Andrew Hill High School. He is now a Nurse Practitioner and has created this organization which he runs separately from his career to help his community. He has been a huge part of helping me organize and mainstream all the supplies to the most needed.
Our current two masks sewing efforts are for Valley Medical Center in San Jose and for a clinic by the name of Salud Para La Gente that serves migrant field workers in Watsonville. Face masks we made were delivered via a caravan the first weekend of May for a farmer worker relief drive. This part of the mission is very significant to me because my tíos, tías, father and even mother know that these essential workers are in critical need. They are a part of us!
We take it a day at a time, and we continue to help because like Pablo Picasso said: “Action is the foundational key to all success.” We are Latinos, we breathe, we work hard, we are smart, we live helping others, it is who we are and one of many things we do because we are people of action and people of our word.
Written By Marisa Rosales Gaska
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