This current pandemic has left the majority of the world feeling helpless. From a shortage of medical supplies like gowns and masks to water, toilet paper and food, we were truly not prepared for COVID-19.
Despite what seamed like a sudden array of lockdowns and social distancing orders, there are leaders on the front lines creating solutions to combat this deadly virus. Fashion Institute of Technology alumna and faculty member Caroline Berti and designer Karen Sabag launched Sew4Lives. “We had about 3,000 requests from homeless shelters, nursing homes, banks, postal workers and more,” Berti tells ESSENCE.
Sew4Lives is a network of students, alumni and faculty who have come together to produce hospital-grade masks for frontline workers across NYC and beyond. To date, more than 5,000 face masks have been made. Without any financial donations or large corporation backing, these women have hand-delivered and sewn masks to help those in need. “We are doing this on a totally voluntary basis, and we’re not taking any money at this time. All these people are using their own materials and resources to get this done,” Berti exclaims.
The Sew4Lives initiative seemingly grew overnight. With a multitude of requests each day, this initiative is not to go unnoticed. Berti details the feeling of being a frontline supplies hero as “numb.” “We couldn’t do this without Lauren Holovka and Collins Nai,” she says. “They’ve been helping the team grow, and they’ve been sewing, and doing orders, and also helping to organize everything and get volunteers and doing all the stuff that can help us get these out to hospitals.” With more than 700 masks delivered at times, the Sew4Lives team continues to remain focused on the mission.
“We try to stay on autopilot, because if you think about it too much, and think about all these people that need our help, it’s just so sad, ” Berti concludes.