Making masks to protect our team during COVID-19

At thinkPARALLAX, our team works hard to maintain a cohesive working relationship that can easily spill over into our personal lives. We work closely together even though we’re spread across four cities in three states — making it essential to be caring and respectful to one another.

Typical mornings at our San Diego headquarters involve a staggered start, with some choosing to take the early train up from San Diego while others arrive breathlessly after having dropped their children off at school. In the spirit of sustainability and work-life balance, our headquarters staff work from home twice a week. Our experience with telecommuting and working together — whether physically or remotely — made the transition to working from home full-time in response to COVID-19 seamless.

For many at thinkPARALLAX, the COVID-19 lockdown seemed as surreal as it was scary. As the daily White House briefings and news pointed towards a disaster with ‘no end in sight,’ it became increasingly clear that we had entered a new normal.

The reports of healthcare workers running out of PPE and having to reuse equipment brought me to tears. I wanted to help, but didn’t know how. Until I learned about the Million Mask Challenge. Supported by the CDC, this initiative donates homemade masks to nursing homes, grocery stores, prisons, and even healthcare workers not directly involved with COVID-19 patients. When the CDC announced that everyone should wear masks in public, I knew many of my friends, family, and thinkPARALLAX team were in need. I know how to sew — and so I got to work.

I have been sewing most of my life, having started as a young child. Once I got the hang of it, I could make about three masks per hour, oftentimes late into the night after a full day of project managing sustainability reports. Throughout it all, my thinkPARALLAX family’s well-being motivated me to keep sewing. In total, I produced 30 masks for our team, their families, and friends.

At thinkPARALLAX, sustainability is in our blood. That’s why I loved that I could upcycle used fabrics from quilts to produce the masks. Also, because the masks can be washed and reused, this reduced waste produced by disposable masks.

With the masks made, the next challenge was delivering to the people who needed them. Our fearless leader, Guusje Bendeler, thinkPARALLAX CEO and co-founder, stepped up. She personally picked up the masks from my home — respecting social distancing measures — and drove across San Diego delivering them to our team members in the area. For our team not in San Diego, I was able to ship the masks.

I am grateful to my thinkPARALLAX family for allowing me to make these masks for them. Losing myself in sewing gave me a sense of serenity and a calmness knowing that my teammates might be a little safer while wearing them. Since that initial batch of masks, I have now made a total of 130 (and counting) to give to those in need.

During this time of great uncertainty, I was happy to find my own way to give back by making masks. And I’m not alone — I continue to be inspired by the sight of so many others stepping up to help others through this crisis.

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