COVID-19 MASK Project: Southwest Region, USA
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the SSIO-USA Southwest Region (Region 9) launched the MASK (Motivational Acts of Selfless Kindness) project in early April. A total of 32 volunteers, comprising members of the Sathya Sai Centers of Mesa, Phoenix and Scottsdale in Arizona as well as community volunteers, began to make and distribute face masks for those most severely impacted by the crisis. As of 19th June, 2020, Sai volunteers in Region 9 have made more than 2,000 masks for distribution to homeless shelters, hospitals, senior citizens and spiritual communities. Nearly half of the masks were delivered to the Navajo Nation, whose people had especially taken a very heavy toll during this pandemic
Here are glimpses of a few of the dedicated volunteers who put their selfless love into action across the vast SSIO-USA Southwest Region, reaching those most in need of these life-saving masks.
An elderly Sai Center member prayed earnestly for a way to help during the pandemic. She spent a week learning how to make masks through Zoom group trainings. She then made 14 masks for workers at a healthcare facility, all the while chanting prayers to infuse the masks with healing energy. The recipients were so touched by her love and compassion that they cited her generous heart as an inspiration.
Another Sai volunteer stitched about 200 masks. Making these masks allowed her to feel engaged and useful while locked down at home. Her experience in fabric design was a great help in ensuring the quality of the masks sent to frontline workers. She also trained volunteers with no sewing experience.
Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) Students: Two sisters, ages 11 and 7, volunteered and inspired their mother to get involved as well. A 14-year-old boy established his own small enterprise to create designer masks to raise funds for three charities: Arizona Humane Society (pet shelter), Feed My Starving Children and Andre House Homeless Shelter. In 1 ½ months, with the help of his mother, he was able to create 400 masks, with all profits being channeled to the three charities.
Community Seniors in Selfless Service: In Colorado, one Sai elder volunteer banded together with 34 other seniors in the Heather Gardens Retirement Community to make masks for first responders in Arapahoe County and for the Children’s Hospital of Denver. These self-proclaimed “Face Mask Warriors” also gave 150 masks to the Sathya Sai Center of SE Denver for distribution to the Volunteers of America Family Shelter which serves homeless individuals, many of whom have severe health concerns. Fifty masks were made with happy designs, specially for the children, to brighten their spirit. These humble heroes are also making masks for their own neighbors, many of them among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.
A recipient nurse on the front-line shared, “I am a front-line worker in the critical care area. My friends and I are using the masks from the Sai MASK project. I cannot express my gratitude enough. I feel Divine love and protection when I wear the mask. For me, the hands which made these mask are God’s own hands.”