When COVID-19 began to spread rapidly in the U.S., health professionals and first responders would soon encounter a shortage of face masks nationwide, including here in Lincoln. Noelle Petersen knew she could help.
Back in March, Noelle joined a group on Facebook, the LNK Community COVID Crafters, to sew homemade masks for Bryan Hospital, the first major medical facility in Lincoln to request homemade masks. She received five free mask patterns and began pattern testing for her husband, Jordan, who has been a firefighter for 12 years.
Married to a firefighter for nine years, Noelle is fully aware of the risks her husband faces every time he goes to work, every other day for 24-hour shifts. As a first responder, Jordan and his crew are usually the first to arrive on emergency calls. With COVID-19 cases increasing, the shortage in masks would eventually affect Jordan and his crew.
“Fire wives and fire families go through a lot. Doctors and nurses and their families, we’re all in this boat together right now, and it’s scary. There’s a lot of unknowns,” Noelle said.
Noelle, who is a stay-at-home-mom to her and Jordan’s four-year-old-daughter, has made over 250 masks in various styles. She spends a couple of hours a day cutting fabric and sewing to donate to the Lincoln Fire Department and to Sew Creative, a quilt shop that collects masks for first responders, the Lincoln Police Department, and front line healthcare workers.
She’s not only donated to the medical community but also friends and family, especially family members at high risk. Her sister-in-law, who is a home health care nurse in the Denver area, and her co-workers have also received Noelle’s masks.
“It’s helped me a lot to have a sense of purpose,” Noelle said. “Being in isolation and knowing that I can do something to help in a meaningful way has helped to feel that this is productive time, and I’m also doing my part to help. It might be one little thing, but it’s my way of helping.”
Not everyone can sew or has access to the material for these masks like elastics, fabric, and a sewing machine. So, yes, it may be one little thing, but it’s one that is making an impact in our community. It just takes one of us to make a difference, using our talents, resources, or passions.
Thank you, Noelle, for blessing our community and medical professionals during this time.