When the Covid-19 crisis began, Deborah Altsman, who works from home, became very concerned about her pharmacist friends working in the stores. They were lacking face masks to protect them properly. What follows is her story of a wonderful ministry she began with the help of many others (including some folks from EPC) to provide handmade masks for healthcare providers in the Austin area. We are very grateful for all that have invested in this ministry.

The Sew Sisters of Austin is a group of quilters who share their love of quilting and the Lord. As I became aware of the need for face masks by health care providers, nursing homes, and practitioners due to Covid-19, I recruited my friends and Sew Sisters in Christ to begin making masks. A friend of mine, Andy Graham, stepped forward and said his company, Alen Air Purifiers, could supply us with N95 filtering material. We chose a pattern with a pocket for the filter, and off we went.

An email was sent out with the pattern, directions, and a teaching video. The Sew Sisters, the EPC Quilt Ministry, and others responded. Women began digging through their fabric stashes and donated fabric. Women began cutting out components, collecting elastic and ties, and finding ways to construct nosepieces in the masks. Women sewed, and sewed, and sewed some more. Joel Altsman stepped in, and with the help of his employee Andrew Velez, made his Pak Mail location the drop off spot for completed masks and the pick up place for precut fabric, elastic, and pipe cleaners. Masks have been donated to nursing homes, hospitals, dentist offices, eye doctor offices, hospice facilities, pharmacists, pharmacy techs, and many other individuals. And they are still being sewn and delivered. At this time we have made more than 2000 masks. We continue to make masks for healthcare providers.

The women pray over the masks as they sew them, for the person who will be wearing that particular mask and the following message is included with each of them,  “These face masks are presented to you by the Austin Face Mask Mission, a group of ladies from the Austin Sew Sisters quilting group, some ladies from Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, and other friends and neighbors who have joined us. Each mask was made to protect you and as a service to our Lord. Each one has been prayed over as it was made, so as you wear it, know that you have been prayed for. Thank you for what you do to take care of our community. We would love pictures of you and your team wearing the masks. Please send them to deborah@…”

Many women from EPC, including Barbara Dunn, Susan Ellis, Patricia Stewart, Gail Shaff, and Becky Sato have given of their time, their sewing abilities, their fabric, and their love to this project. In addition, Ian Ferguson, Luke Ferguson, JD Stewart, John Ellis, and Dan Dunn have helped out as runners, deliverers, and supply procurers. I am so grateful. God bless the work of our hands. Eph. 2:8-10. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

One of the Sew Sisters is sewing masks without filters for the non-caretaker public. They are available at Joel’s Pak Mail for $7.

Our own Gail Aldrich Shaff is also making masks. Her masks are the rectangular pleated kind made with interfacing and are $7 also.



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