Sewing For A Cause: EveryStep Volunteer Kem Green Donates Hundreds of Masks

Kem Green had already begun making fabric face masks when she first saw a request from EveryStep seeking volunteers to donate homemade masks for medical staff.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, EveryStep has been building a supply of official personal protective equipment (PPE) – including surgical masks and N95 masks - for its hospice and home care staff as they continue to visit patients.
However, the organization also wanted to ensure each of its nearly 400 employees – including those who don’t provide direct care – were equipped with a fabric “barrier” mask to provide some protection for day-to-day use.
A longtime volunteer at the organization and its Des Moines hospice house, Kavanagh House on 56th Street, Kem knew exactly where the dozen or so masks she's already made would be finding a new home.
"I donated those right away," Kem said, noting that she's made several more donations in the time since then.
"I originally thought I’d make 50,” Kem said. But as of April 23, she had made 200 masks, with more than 116 going to EveryStep.
Among the donated masks are also headbands with buttons. These are meant to ease the pressure on healthcare worker's ears as they wear masks with elastic loops.
Kem notes that like many others who are sewing and donating masks in the community, she's found that some materials have become scarce, but she's become creative in her designs.
"Like most others making these, elastic has become scarce, and fabric ties are probably more comfortable but do take longer to sew," she said. "I’ve also used some hair bands and shoe laces for ties."
"Other than having trouble keeping supplies on hand, I have enjoyed working on these and don’t feel tired of it yet," she says, adding that she's been able to make her way through a few audio books while sewing.
Kem, who is used to staying quite busy with her volunteer work, says the project has allowed her to continue supporting the community.
"I usually volunteer every week at the Kavanagh House, and sometimes have a home or nursing home patient to visit as well, but I can’t do that now during this social distancing time," she says. "Being able to donate these to EveryStep makes me feel like I’m still doing something to help out my friends there," she says.