BULLHEAD CITY — The community needs your help, and luckily, it’s something you can do from home.
Grace Hecht, of #MakeBullheadBetter, would like the community to join her and many other volunteers to help make masks for health care workers and other essential workers in the community.
“There were a lot of people putting things on Facebook that they need a mask or ‘I’m making some masks,’ ” Hecht said. “So I just put out a post asking if there was a page or one location where people could go. I didn’t want to recreate something that had been created.”
The result was the new Masks for Bullhead Facebook page that Hecht created April 3. As of Monday she had more than 350 members.
The page is dedicated to gathering up the community to make and distribute protective masks to those who need/want them. This coincided with the request by President Donald Trump that Americans voluntarily follow new recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that everyone in public wear a protective mask.
“There was a lot of healthcare workers that still don’t have masks,” Hecht said, “so that was my priority. I’m not charging healthcare workers. If regular, non-healthcare workers, need masks then they can just make a donation. Usually $2-$5 per mask.”
One of those healthcare workers needing to get masks for his people is Chaz Martinez, the director of marketing and business development for Talas Harbor.
“We’re looking for some homemade masks to put over our N95 masks, because PPE (personal protective equipment) is at such a shortage,” Martinez said. “I went to order some masks this morning and it was 1,000 procedure masks for $4,000. And they won’t sell them in smaller quantities, so we asked for some outside help to make some masks for our staff.”
Hecht said that although that was her top priority, it’s not just for healthcare workers
“The hospitals yes, but also all the Walmart people need them,” she said. “The Starbucks people, the grocery store people, all the essential workers need them. The walk-in clinics in Laughlin just wrote and said they don’t have any masks. You feel like ‘Oh my gosh, this could save somebody’s life and it’s so much pressure.’ ”
Luckily, many individuals have stepped up to help, including the Colorado River Quilters Club, which made and donated more than 150 masks to Western Arizona Regional Medical Center.
Most of the new group’s members are helping make and distribute the masks, but some have contributed financially. Gary Shapiro, of Southwest Financial Center, and Ken and Karen Parillo, owners of Laughlin/Bullhead Vacation Rentals and Sales, got things started with a $300 donation. This helped Hecht purchase the knitting material and ties to get started.
“So I watched a YouTube video and there was a girl who was using knit fabric, which they still had at JoAnne’s, thank God,” said Hecht. “Because of Gary and Ken and Karen’s donation, I was able to buy it for about $10 a yard.”
The Parillos are friends with Shapiro, so after learning of Hecht’s goals and efforts via social media, Karen Parillo reached out to Shapiro and learned he would be making a donation.
“Karen said ‘By all means, let us know,’ ” added Ken Parillo. “So I just went to the bank and dropped $200 off to Gary and he gave it to Grace so she could buy the materials she needs. I hope it’s enough to get things going for them. We’re just concerned business people, so we want to make sure we contribute. It’s just what we do. We’re glad we could help.”
Hecht said she understands that the masks are not replacements for the coveted N95 masks used by healthcare workers, but her group has been able to augment the N95 masks, extending their life and effectiveness with an extra layer of protection.
“The nurses can put them over their N95 masks,” said Hecht. “I know at WARMC they are given one mask per day. The girl in (New York) says they are given one mask for five days. So these help extend the life and efficiency of their masks. These are just to help keep your germs off of other people, it doesn’t make you a superhero.”
Hecht added that there are plenty of other things that need to be done besides sewing, including cutting patterns, ironing them, folding pipe cleaners and other duties. Anyone interested is encouraged to go to the Masks For Bullhead Facebook page to learn what needs to be done.
People may pick up masks, drop off masks or pick up pre-made kits to take home and make masks at the Bullhead City Fire Department, Gary Shapiro’s SFC office at 1854 Highway 95, the Parillos’ office at 1858 Highway 95, or Mohave Environmental labs at 2580 Landon Drive during normal business hours.
If you don’t have access to the Masks For Bullhead Facebook page, Hecht asks you to text her at 928-444-2896.
“We just need so much help,” Hecht added. “You don’t have to know how to sew. The sewing is only 10% of it. The most time consuming part is cutting everything out and getting it ready. This is a community effort and we’re all working together on this.”