Residents step up to help frontline workers
One month ago, Miriam Shelvin, a school nurse at Plainedge High School with 28 years of experience in maternal child nursing, posted a request online for help to make masks for local nurses who live and work around the community. Soon after, Operation PPE Mineola was born.
“I am a nurse and have friends working the front lines,” Shelvin said. “I started hearing from them they were running out of PPE and were being told they may have to use things like bandannas. I am a Mineola resident for 25 years and my children were very involved in the drama program at Mineola Middle School and high school. We have a group of parent volunteers there that sew and help make costumes and set design for the play. I reached out to my fellow “drama mamams” to see if we could begin to make masks for our local moms who work in hospitals.”
Thus far, 3,335 pieces of PPE have been sent to facilities and hospitals across the island, Queens and the rest of New York City. Out of those 3,335 pieces of PPE were 1,661 masks, 257 face shields, 987 headbands, 186 head covers and 247 ear savers.
“I am so proud that a community like Mineola, while small was able to make so many pieces of PPE to donate to so many hospitals and healthcare centers,” Shelvin explained. “I never expected to be as big as it has become or to get the support that we have received. To have 100 active volunteers and donors is amazing.”
If people want to donate materials and money to Operation PPE Mineola, the group has a Facebook page group titled Operation PPE Mineola that people can contact them. The group also responds to all inquiries on the Mineola Moms and Dads Facebook page.
The Bee Happy Foundation, a 401C group, with donors from as far as Illinois, also contributed funds and materials. Coupled with the countless donations from the local community, both material and monetary, Operation PPE Mineola enlisted non-sewing volunteers to cut and prep components.
“None of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for all of these people,” Shelvin said. “I just had an idea, Terry and Frank had the vision, Linda, Cina and Nancy helped organize, but the community is what made this possible. The silver lining in this very dark cloud is that I found out that there is so much good left in this world, that I live in an amazing community and that I have made many new friends. I wish I could buy them all a drink when this is all over and we could all get together.”
Since the launch of Operation PPE Mineola, the group now has more than 150 members on Facebook, 100 active volunteers and scores of donations from all over. Volunteers are broken down into four areas of function, which are cut and prep, machine sewers, hand sewers and runners.