While Strauss Theatre Center remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of Strauss volunteers are using some of their downtime to help out in this time of need. With the pandemic causing a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment for our healthcare workers, Strauss volunteers Gayle Frick, Cassey Bernstein, Cynthia Chapman, Lyn Hollier, and Dorothy Donald have been using their sewing skills to create face masks to donate to healthcare workers across northeast Louisiana and beyond.
Cassey Bernstein, an actress who has appeared in several Strauss productions including “Baskerville” earlier this year, has made over 100 masks that have gone out to help people in four states. “Most of my masks go to my community, but I have also sent masks to nurses I know in Texas and Illinois,” she said. “This has been a very therapeutic project on which to work. I don’t feel so helpless when I am sewing, and knowing that what I am making could help keep people safe.” Cassey has also been working on making scrub hats for respiratory therapists at St. Francis Medical Center.
Dorothy Donald has also seen her handiwork go to help people both locally and across the country. “Just finished some going to Affinity Behavior Health Clinic. They’ve gone as far as to Portland, OR to sweet young police officer, Auburn, AL to my niece’s medical clinic, AL to my friend’s 6 rural health clinics, my RN friend in Missouri, my nurse friend in New Orleans whose husband is also a nurse (Touro isolation unit), to Houston and more places I’m sure I’m forgetting.”
Of course, healthcare professionals aren’t the only ones benefitting from their hard work. As the CDC has begun recommending everyone wear a face mask in public as part of its social distancing guidelines, many in our community can benefit from these face masks, including our own audience members once the Strauss does open back up.
According to longtime Strauss actress, director, and costumer Gayle Frick, “I am happy to say we will continue making masks to have available for our members who need them or have forgotten theirs (at home) and would like one.” Incidentally, Gayle is the director of the currently delayed production of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, to be performed at a yet to be determined time when the COVID-19 threat has subsided.
Our Strauss volunteers aren’t the only ones involved in making face masks. There is a whole community of people on Facebook who are using their sewing skills to help others during this time of need. If you are interested in learning more or would like to get involved yourself, check out the NELA Facemask Project on Facebook.