Masks, masks,masks – kindness in NYC un-masked

A homemade mask.
A homemade mask.

The goodness and kindness of average citizens has certainly forged forward during these days and months of COVID 19 quarantine in New York.

As a resident of the county of Kings, throughout these perilous days, I have evidenced more than a few acts of kindness emanating from actions by queens who have stepped forward to provide comfort to others during these scary times.

Consider, a neighbor, an individual I now know to be Sarah Martinez; a parent to three, young, children she is now obligated to home-school from 9 a m. to 2 pm. every day because of the state declared quarantine and due to our shared predicaments are now more than passing neighbors.

She lives on a floor 12 flights beneath mine and as many from where her mother-in-law resides two units away among 18 others in a 22-floor, seven-building housing complex.

Recently, the Puerto Rican family lost their patriarch and are adjusting to life in quarantine without Tony, a tiger and once fierce father-figure who provided for his wife Alma and four children.

Despite the personal tragedy the widow, Alma Martinez is extending herself beyond confined quarters and though bereaved, has unselfishly offered courtesies to neighbors. A personal testimonial to her philanthropy gratefully acknowledges the day she suggested she would assist with replenishing my grocery needs whenever she ventured out.

It was an offer I could not refuse.

I have been supplying a grocery list and on each occasion she has braved the surge from the pandemic she has indulged my requests in order to spare me the agony of standing on long lines at my local bodega and supermarket.

Our mutual arrangement is continuing with our doorknobs being the intermediary for pickup and delivery.

Alma’s generosity did not stop there, on a day when I least expected to hear my door-bell it sounded a call for response. When I opened the door there was a bag hanging from the knob. Inside a lovely, handmade mask — lined and filtered for my protection.

A note informed its origin so I called to express my gratitude for the free, unselfish act of kindness.

That she would even consider gifting the safety item truly heartened my day.

I called to thank her and to inquire about the origin of the beautiful custom-made personal protective item.

She told me it was made by her daughter-in-law Sarah, the mother of three.

It was then that I imagined how beneficial such a lovely covering could serve the maintenance and management team who toil in the housing development to make the buildings operative.

It was also my belief that the task of making the items could provide supplemental stimulus to the mother who is unable to earn a salary as usual.

I showed off my gift to one of my maintenance workers. On seeing the photo image, he suggested a willingness to pay a nominal fee for one he thought might protect him from the routine duties he performs daily disposing of tons of garbage, cleaning elevators, laundry rooms, mopping floors, etc.

Against Sarah’s resistance to accepting compensation I insisted, citing the reality of feeding a family under unsalaried quarantine.

Apprehensively she conceded.

A homemade mask with an image of former Presidet Barack Obama.

Needless, to say my next impulse was to recruit my generous friends to purchase the one of a kind masks to aid the selfless mom whose initial motivation was only to help others.

My dear friends jumped at the idea.

I dugged into my Labor Day stash of scarves, flags and cloths; resurrected the stored fabrics I had acquired from years of making numerous trips to 20 of the 55 states of Africa.

Additionally, the promotional cloths annually thrown into crowds for masqueraders to “get something and wave” proved purposeful.

They all bear colorful banners from many Caribbean islands and seem to be the enticement friends find alluring to participate in my initiative.

Enid in Jamaica.

Since then I have been pleasantly awed by Sarah’s creativity and fast response to making and mailing masks to my friends in California, Florida, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Jamaica and Manhattan.

Granted, her days begin with homeschooling three children of varying grade levels and that her priority is the daunting task of substituting for teachers skilled and prepared to educate masses of children, however, she still manages to find time to sew for a cause.

Undoubtedly, the fact she also must clean, cook, shop for necessities tend to her husband, and also fulfill other responsibilities, Sarah is among the legions rising to the challenge, applying a new skill and in the process making a great contribution to restoring normalcy in the Big Apple.

Sarah and so many generous, thoughtful, unselfish, unsung heroes have essentially provided a service—from standing on lines at the post office, buying filters to line the masks and devoting hours to secure the safety of others she is one of the reasons jet fighter pilots from the Air Force’s Thunderbirds and the Navy’s Blue Angels displayed gratitude to selfless New Yorkers last week.

To Sarah, Alma and so many others, noise-making bells, whistles, drums, pots and pans and loud applauses are in order for the huge sacrifices they are making to benefit others.

Catch you on the Inside!

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