NORFOLK, Neb. – Northeast Community College employees have come together to produce facemasks for their co-workers as the College looks to start bringing some of them back to campus in the coming weeks in order for them to work in their offices. Many instructors and staff members have been working away from the College’s main campus in Norfolk and extended campuses since late March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The cotton facemasks are being produced in two classrooms in the College’s Lifelong Learning Center on the Norfolk campus, which provides enough space for people to work either by themselves or in a small group.
Josh Becker, TRIO student support services program director, who is assisting in the production of facemasks, said the goal is to produce enough masks for all faculty and staff.
“Volunteers began a test run earlier this week creating facemasks that can be used by Northeast employees in the coming months. They have been working in two-hour blocks between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. cutting, sewing and putting together the masks. We gladly accepted whatever help they could offer,” Becker said. “We hope we can make available two-to-five masks for each employee.”
Pam Dahlheim, executive assistant in the Student Services division, is overseeing the project. She said it was quite a process to prepare for the event. She said they purchased fabric featuring the Northeast colors from a local quilt shop, ordered the elastic, gathered the necessary sewing notions, set dates and times to make the masks, and sought volunteers to assist with the project.
“Several stations were set up to cut the fabric to the desired size, cut the elastic pieces to the desired size, pin the two pieces of fabric and the elastic together, sew the mask, turn the mask right side out, iron, and pin the pleats in place, and top stitch the mask – which is the final step.”
Dahlheim said it was good to be able to see co-workers again after only be connected through email, phone calls or Zoom meetings for the past two months.
“The first day was so much fun,” she said. “It truly was a team effort and we could not have made the masks without all of the volunteers. No matter what a person’s skillset was, we found a way for them to help out. We even got to know some coworkers a little better, since we don’t always get the opportunity to work one-on-one with them. There definitely was a lot of laughter in the room.”
Becker appreciates the President’s Office and the College’s Professional/Managerial Association for sponsoring the project.
“It is exciting to get back together for some light-hearted conversation and long overdue interaction while participating in a very worthwhile project, he said. “But we are still in need more volunteer help and I am encouraging others to offer their assistance.”
Becker said they are looking to produce a total 2,060 masks and will be utilizing future dates to ensure the number is met.
Dahlheim said she is proud to be taking part in the effort.
“It was a great feeling to help organize this project and know that other coworkers wanted to help out. Realizing that these masks can help minimize the spread of the virus and keep staff safe and healthy is a good feeling,” she said. “Although we got a lot of masks made, we still have a lot to make.”
Northeast Community College employees Deb Dreher (left) and Pam Dahlheim prepare to cut fabric that will become a facemask for a member of the College faculty or staff. The Northeast President’s Office and Professional/Managerial Association are sponsoring the project that is designed to produce over 2,000 facemasks for College employees to use in the coming months.