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Louisville council member Deb Fahey and other women in her neighborhood have been working together to create masks for people who can’t buy them, or do not have access to them. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
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Editor’s Note: Becky Nelson was incorrectly identified in the original posting of this story.

A group of Louisville women has become a mask-making force. After rallying to sew masks for a local medical professional during the coronavirus pandemic, their efforts have gained momentum and they have now made more than 3,000 masks for the community.

Judy Delaware, a Louisville resident, saw a post on Facebook requesting homemade masks to be used in a doctor’s office and enlisted her friend and neighbor Becky Nelson.

“I had called (Nelson) and asked her if she knew anyone that sewed from church and she immediately said ‘yes,’” Delaware said. “Overnight, we started the idea of having people make the masks.”

Both Nelson and Delaware both live in the Enclave neighborhood and decided to create a Facebook page called the Enclave Does Our Part COVID-19 response , and started to get the word out that they needed help.

“I personally do not sew, but I am in the medical community and know a lot of people (that need masks),” Delaware said. “And (Nelson) knows a lot of people from her church. It started as a grassroots group of people.”

Dr. Lisa Samuelson a pediatrician with Centennial Valley Pediatrics said her friend originally began asking for a specific type of mask, which gave her the idea to turn to her community.

“It was really awesome,” Samuelson said. “I was just kind of putting it out there for people who wanted to help whenever they could and then that group of ladies provided our office with more than 100 masks.”

Initially, they were going to use the hand-sewn masks to preserve the office’s N-95 masks, but now they have enough to allow patients to wear them during visits and launder them after their use.

“It’s been really helpful to extend our mask supply,” Samuelson said. “It’s incredible and a great way for people to give back to the community and we appreciate it so much.”

Councilmember Debbie Fahey sews and became part of the group when she saw the requests come in.

“My first thought was, ‘Oh my God, I’m living in a neighborhood where women will step up and offer to do this to fill a need,’” Fahey said. “There’s a need, and we have people who step up immediately to try and fill that need. I think that’s amazing. That’s one of the reasons I love living in Louisville.”

Originally, Nelson said they did not have specific goals, but now they want to help anyone they can.

“We started this just for Dr. Lisa and her team,” Nelson said. “Our makers kind of got ramped up. (Delaware) would call me and say we have all these masks, and I don’t know what to do with them. I’d tell her, ‘Oh, don’t worry, if the masks are coming, someone is going to need them.’ Sure enough, within 24 hours, we would have a message. It’s kind of been a revolving door of masks coming in and going out.”

The group doesn’t charge for masks, even for large deliveries.

“We feel the need within the community,” Delaware said.

Most deliveries have been in Louisville, Boulder and Longmont, but some masks have been sent to Denver.

Louisville City Council earlier this month enacted an order requiring people to wear face coverings in businesses and public settings where 6 feet of social distancing space cannot be observed.

Fahey said she believes the order, and others like it across the county, will create a need for more masks.

Louisville Mayor Ashley Stolzmann has also been a point of contact for the group, helping deliver masks or connecting those who need masks with those who make them.

“The positive response in the community to wearing and distributing face coverings has been really inspiring,” Stolzmann said. “Even more impressive are the community groups that are making face coverings for others. There are several groups in town working on this. They have been kind enough to get masks either directly to residents, or they give them to the city so we can distribute them to people in need.”

Stolzmann said residents who need a mask can email her at ashleys@louisvilleco.gov.

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