The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted the United States in unimaginable ways and that has been particularly true for members of racial and ethnic minority groups, including Latinos. Utah State University’s Admissions office wanted to step up and help the LatinX community in Cache Valley by both gathering the supplies and then making and donating face masks to those in need.
Nahomi Jimenez, the diversity and outreach specialist in USU’s Admissions office, realized there was a need for masks in the vulnerable LatinX community when the COVID-19 pandemic began in March. Jimenez began making masks in her spare time and quickly gained the support of the entire USU Admissions team. With college tours on hold, Director of Enrollment, Katie North, gave the OK for USU student ambassadors and fellow staff members to cut fabric during their office hours, while Jimenez could sew during her time at work when she had free moments.
The hard work and effort paid off as the team was able to donate more than 450 masks to local organizations including the Cache Valley Immigrant and Refugee Connection, Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Parish and YMCA Utah.
“I’ve seen people wearing our masks around town, both on the street and in the store, and I am filled with so much appreciation for the support of the USU Admissions office and our incredible students,” Jimenez said.
Fellow Admissions staff quickly realized that small acts of kindness, such as cutting out a piece of fabric, could contribute to something big.
“It was fun and it really did not take a lot of time, with everything going on now it felt good to be part of something to help someone,” said Joe Busby, admissions specialist.
With social distancing protocols in place, Jimenez coordinated both the supplies and volunteer logistics.
“There was a need and Nahomi worked to get us organized and all working together and help make a difference in our community,” said Shelby Frauen-Riddle, Admissions specialist.
USU’s place in the Cache Valley community allows for collaboration with many organizations both on and off campus. Jimenez became aware that masks were needed by working closely with Crescencio López González, an associate professor of LatinX in the Languages, Philosophy, and Communications Department, and Lizette Villegas from Cache Valley’s the Family Place. She is grateful to many, including her roommate, Aggie alum Karina Hernandez, who spent countless hours sewing alongside her, and Kenia Hoover, a Cache Valley resident, who donated a sewing machine to the project.
As the Coronavirus pandemic continues, there is still a need to provide facemasks to underserved communities. Those interested in helping may contact Jimenez at firstname.lastname@example.org. A tutorial on how to sew facemasks is available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRfhuRNua_E&t=69s.