When the shelter in place order was issued, many community members had to largely curtail their ambitions for the coming months. However, two highly ambitious Scotts Valley locals saw this grand intermission as the time to get busy contributing to our community. Julie Ebert and Lori Rubin, have rolled up their shirt sleeves and setup battle stations with card tables, countertops, and carports to sew masks for at risk populations in our community. So far, they’ve churned out over 1,000 masks and their plans don’t stop there. They’ve donated masks to (hang in there, it’s a long list) Visiting Angels, Brookdale Scotts Valley, Driftwood Health Care, Lincoln Glen Manor, Hospice of Santa Cruz County, La Posada Santa Cruz, San Lorenzo Park Apartments, Santa Cruz Support Living, Life Span Cares, Westwind Memory Care, Santa Cruz Post Acute, Elizabeth Oaks Apartments, and El Dorado Center.
Originally Rubin was unsure what to do with her masks, she “just started, to give myself a sense of purpose.” When she later connected with Ebert and the duo realized they were both up to their elbows in fabric, “[Ebert] had the brilliant insight of where to send the masks, to nursing
homes.” Ebert had recently called Visiting Angels in Scotts Valley to ask if there was a need, “and the staff member burst into tears… I called in March and at that point masks weren’t going to be available until mid-May.”
While Ebert can be credited with the bigger vision for their project, she compliments Rubin for her vital talent, “Lori has a gift to ask for things in a low-pressure way.” After running out of their own supplies, the duo needed more, particularly spools of thread and 100% cotton, from old t-shirts, bedsheets, and whatnot. Rubin quickly sent out emails to friends, family, neighbors and posted on Nextdoor, a localized social media network. The next day, fabric and thread began showing up in her carport, checks were sent for more material, and even a friend in Boston sent up “unused sheets from her mother’s wedding trousseau. Every morning, [Rubin finds] a mountain of shopping bags with fabric, thread, and elastic in her carport. We’re meeting a new neighbor every morning.” Ebert adds, “It’s unbelievable those who stepped up to donate thread, people near and far people have brought us fabrics.” With these materials, the women work anywhere from 4-8 hours a day, behind their machines to create about 100-150 masks per week.
On top of material donations, our community has also volunteered physically. The duo has recently brought in “new recruits. Everyone can help, even those who don’t know how to sew can cut patterns and those without machines can iron.” Both Rubin and Ebert were taken aback by the number of volunteers, until they were told by several people, “’When we first got shutdown, we felt powerless, we wanted to help, but there was no way.’ Over a certain age, you can’t go help and contact others in person. Not only are we doing the obvious, helping those who need masks, but we’re giving ourselves a purpose and giving the community a way to help.”
The duo aren’t the only contributors to our vast void in our county. Universal Audio, a local Scotts Valley manufacturer of audio software and hardware, has set their sights on making masks as well. On April 15th, they donated 1,000 masks to the Scotts Valley and Watsonville Kaiser Permanente offices.
Alongside their volunteers, Rubin is grateful for the task, “We get out of bed, and when our feet hit the ground, we have a job. I’d much rather be at the machine than reading or watching a TV show. Our duty calls. We’re in it for the long run. Maybe we see a few waves, and even if we don’t, masks are prudent. We’re in it until the need is filled. Unless a miracle occurs, it’s left to us.” To help them fill the need, you can contact email@example.com, to deliver supplies, donate, or if you think their services could be helpful for another organization.