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УOn average, I sleep five hours; the rest of time is for sewing.Ф How Russians in Seattle help fight coronavirus

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УOn average, I sleep five hours; the rest of time is for sewing.Ф How Russians in Seattle help fight coronavirus


Julia Goryacheva†

Members of the Russian-speaking community in Seattle (USA) are taking part in fight against coronavirus by collaborating in sewing medical masks for city hospitals. We spoke about this initiative of our compatriots with Lyudmila Sokolova, the board member of the Russian Cultural Center in Seattle and the owner of a sewing business.

“For almost two weeks now, we and a team of volunteers consisting of women and teenagers have been cutting and sewing medical face masks. We make them three-layered with 100% cotton to ensure stronger protection against the virus,” Lyudmila told the Russkiy Mir.

Ready-to-use face masks

Why did the need arise?

Ц The fact is that hardly anyone was prepared for such a powerful virus here. A couple of weeks ago it was not anymore possible to buy any kind of face masks at all. Furthermore, even now employees in shops and pharmacies work without gloves and medical protection masks. I unintentionally noticed it and, having estimated my resources, I did a kind of independent marketing research. Lilia Erosheva, one of the directors of the local Russian Cultural Center, told me that medical staff at the Auburn City Hospital, as well as other medical centers, is given one face mask per person per day, even though it is required to change them every 2-3 hours! Therefore, we decided to make urgent Facebook announcement about our initiative to sew masks, and that we need helpers, as well as new fabrics and financial support.

Lyudmila Sokolova

Igor Nozdrin, the executive director of the Russian American Initiative Foundation, helped us a lot: he supported our mobilization, and then, together with his wife, collected fabrics for making masks in the evenings and at the weekends and brought it to us.

Ц Did you learn to sew face masks by yourself?

Ц I live in the city of Sammamish near Seattle. I saw an ad at the local JoAnn Store selling goods for sewing and took one-day course in tailoring masks. There were twenty students. Speaking of the Russians, I was alone. After that, I sewed a batch of masks and delivered one piece to each of local hospitals and nursing homes for elderly people.

Ц Who are your helpers and how many face masks do you manage to sew per day?

Ц Together with our team we sew 150 masks per day. On average, I sleep for five hours at night; the rest of time is for sewing.

Lilia Erosheva

There are 7 people in my team. Julia Kabelitskaya (from Crimea), Elena Sharygina (Russia) and Valentina Kudryavtseva (Russia) sew masks together with me. Natasha Parizer makes arrangements with hospitals and raises money for charity. Lilia Erosheva is engaged in efforts to build awareness; she looks for contacts, also raises funds for charity and helps to sew medical masks. The other day sewing team was joined by my students from the crafts school, namely Dasha Nosyreva, (12 years old, came to the USA from Lithuania), Vera Sokolova (my daughter, 9 years old) and Masha Kudryavtseva (13 years old, Lilia Erosheva’s daughter).

Julia Kabelitskaya

Ц How do you make arrangements with hospitals?

Ц Our team negotiates with hospitals and medical institutions, providing them with samples. If the face masks satisfy all the requirements, then the order is placed for a certain number. Mostly, orders are placed over and over again.

Sometimes I have to deliver masks myself. Igor Nozdrin also helps a lot. And in case of MultiCare Medical Center in Auburn, I give masks directly to a Russian-speaking doctor and he brings them to his work.

As to other hospitals, such as the Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue, the Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, the Mt. Baker Care Center in Bellingham and The General Hospital in Tacoma, we give masks to representatives of medical staff.

Russian schoolgirls sew masks for American hospitals

Ц Have you been living in Seattle for a long time?

Ц I have been living in the USA for thirty years. I came from the Stavropol Krai. My main profession is a seamstress. I design and sew wedding dresses. I own Elita Couture Company, which specializing in sewing clothes, wedding dresses and suits, as well as in design for weddings, large events and celebrations. In addition, I also work as a chief designer for a flower company in Bothell. Over the past two months, due to coronavirus, the work has stopped; there have not been any orders, so I decided to dedicate free time to work on medical masks.

Ц I heard that the local Russian community has been actively supporting your initiative?

Ц As I said, Igor Nozdrin helps a lot, he brings fabrics. Many friends provide financial support for purchasing fabrics, threads, filters, rubber bands and other materials.

We also help the team in Sacramento, California, who are also starting to sew masks. They have already received a work-describing video and sample masks from us. The other day, we sent 30 masks to a hospital in New York - they were very happy.

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