Local women make face masks to benefit individuals with developmental disabilities

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By Olivia Bloom

Lake County women banded together on May 14 on a mission to make face masks for individuals with developmental disabilities who attend adult services programs at the Lake County Board of Developmental Disabilities (LCBDD)/Deepwood.

The women who volunteered their time and talents were either members of the Deepwood staff or the LCBDD Board of Directors. The group made 70 masks and 15 kits with fabric and elastic to make more masks if needed

Upon receiving guidance from the Ohio DODD to slowly re-open Adult Day Support programs, the women organized quickly to explore how to make the experience of returning a more comfortable one for the individuals served.

“We know the people who attend our programs have missed their friends, our staff and the activities,” says Elfie Roman, LCBDD/Deepwood’s superintendent. “We recently received word that Adult Day Support programs may begin to slowly re-open under specific guidelines and we wanted to be prepared to do so with face masks. We thought allowing individuals to choose from a selection of bright, colorful mask options in different themes would make the experience a bit more positive.”

Lynnmarie Landwei-Phillips, public relations director, secured fun fabrics to make the masks, such as superheroes, Cleveland Indians and plain or bright floral prints. To add some fun to the task and to keep workflow moving, Pam Martin, an LCBDD board member, motivated seamstresses with some friendly competition.

The remaining mask mission members—Robin Irons (director of nursing), Ann Mahler (assistant superintendent), Linda DeRosa (early childhood supervisor), Jackie Sheridan (day program director), Sonja Maier and Andrea Polkar-Byrne (LCBDD/Deepwood board members), Carol Krider (adult services substitute), and Beki Schrieber (operations administrative assistant)— helped cut fabric and elastic, iron, pin pleats, sew and trim strings.

“It was good for my mental health to spend a day away from my computer and give back to our community,” says Andrea Polkar-Byrne.

Masks were provided to individuals as they began returning to Adult Day Support programs in early May.

“It was great to see the smiles on attendees’ faces when they picked out their face masks,” says Ann Mahler. “Adding a bit of fun to help with their comfort level made every stitch worth it.”

The mission of the Lake County Board of Developmental Disabilities/Deepwood is to empower people with developmental disabilities to engage in activities that enrich their lives and contribute to their community. You can visit the website at LakeBDD.org for updates.