Sharing Love One Mask at a Time

Author: Terri Jones

Terri Jones at her sewing machinePhoto courtesy of Terri Jones.

You see face masks everywhere these days. What used to be reserved for the medical community has become commonplace in our daily lives.

And as we often see when a challenge arises, our nation has sprung into action to help fill a need. Companies that had normal production halted due to the coronavirus started making masks. And in homes across America, sewing machines began to hum, needles moved up and down and cloth and thread came together – creating valuable protection for friends, relatives and neighbors.

While we see these masks every day, what we don’t often see — or hear about — is the inspiration behind these creations and the revelations that occur as the masks are being made.

We recently sat down with Terri Jones, TAPS Survivor Care Team manager, as she talked about her motivation to make masks and how sewing is an important part of her self-care routine.

What inspired you to make these masks?

I was inspired to sew masks when my daughter, who is a nurse, shared about the shortages of PPEs (personal protective equipment) at her hospital. We talked about what would be helpful for her and what would be safe for her to use. I also wanted to sew masks for people that would need them - several of my family members are working on the front lines. 

How has making these masks helped you in coping with COVID-19?

Sewing masks has helped me to cope by keeping my mind busy, especially on the weekends. My sewing room has always been a place of self-care. I researched several designs of masks and types of fabrics to use and what process would make the masks most effective to protect those that needed them. My deceased son, Jason, was an artist and he would help me create patterns.

I could feel his memory with me - guiding me to find the best pattern for a mask - so it was a win-win situation. I was able to stay busy with a craft that I love to do and also help others while doing so.

What message do you wish to share with anyone who wants to do something to help others or find an activity to help them cope?

As we are all learning, stay-at-home orders can be challenging. I learned that my home already held many activities just waiting for me to find it. The long-forgotten puzzles stashed in the closet, books that were waiting for me to pick up, listening to the song birds a little more intently and attempts at preparing a new recipe. Self-care is so important, especially during these times. Having an activity that can help others is also very rewarding. Facebook is a great place to connect with different movements of support. I found many sewing clubs that were dedicated to sewing masks. My small home town also created a Facebook page just for ways to support the community. 

What will you carry forward from this experience?

I will carry forward the importance of human touch and the value of our daily freedoms that our loved ones have protected for many generations. I will definitely hug a little longer when the day comes that we can sit with each other again.

How do you think COVID-19 will change our perspectives on the world around us? On our daily lives?

I believe this experience will help humankind as a whole to understand how valuable relationships are; how precious our elders are and the value of their wisdom. When we are all suddenly faced with our own mortality it puts things in perspective as to what is most important in your life. This pandemic has shown the adaptability of the human race. Life drastically changed but so did we. And thankfully, with the support of technology, we were not alone.

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Love Takes Action

As part of the Love Takes Action campaign, New York Life Insurance Company donated to TAPS in honor of Terri’s giving spirit. This donation will directly assist the taps survivor care team and the critical outreach efforts to provide comfort and hope to grieving military survivors.

Terri Jones is the surviving mother of Spc. Jason E. Cooper, U.S. Army Reserve and serves as TAPS Survivor Care Team Manager.