(Left to Right) Recipients of the handmade masks Phylliss & Marvin Seidman and one of the 18 seamstresses Minette Daland from Thousand Oaks.]

During the coronavirus pandemic, people are coming together now more than ever. University Village Thousand Oaks’ Life Enrichment Director Holly Butler is determined to make a difference – and she has. When the government announced that wearing a face mask could help limit the spread of the virus, Holly set a goal to make a handmade, washable face mask for every resident and team member at University Village and at the adjacent health center, OakView.

It started with a text message Butler sent to a small group of friends saying, “I don’t know how we’re going to do this; I don’t know how to sew nor if you do either, but I’m determined. Who’s in?” Just from word of mouth, the group secured 18 seamstresses and went to work. This group dedicated their time every day for a month to make these masks for total strangers and were thrilled to help.

Determined, the group built a network of supply donators and gatherers, seamstresses, and delivery and pickup runners. By April 15, the group met their goal of 1,000 masks. Leadership received an outpouring of emails from residents who expressed how thankful they were to receive the masks.

“The staff has been so wonderful, but what touched my heart the most was the letter that accompanied the face masks,” said resident Anita Brewer. “It brought tears to my eyes of thankfulness and feelings of such love and appreciation. These are the acts that remain in our hearts forever.”

Each mask was made with love and thoughtfulness by total strangers who were concerned about the health and well-being of the residents and team members at University Village and OakView. During times like these, it truly takes a village, and this group is a perfect example that we can overcome when we come together.

Read more about the group’s effort in the Agoura Hills Patch.