Making masks: TSA employees meet the need

Friday, April 24, 2020
Staff with masks

Every hero needs a mask.

We’re not talking about what we used to refer to as “superheroes,” we’re talking about today’s heroes: our local medical providers, nurses, doctors and first responders. These heroes need masks to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. TSA officers know what it feels like to be on the frontline, and across the country they are stepping up to make masks for those who need them most.

Employee and masks

Susan Schultz, a Supervisor in Milwaukee, has sewn over 300 masks. She’s been able to reduce the process to six steps, creating a mask every seven minutes. She works to provide masks to the seniors in her community, who are most at risk. She collaborates with her daughter, who’s employed at an assisted living home for seniors. “I joined them and I’ve been sewing endlessly ever since,” Schultz said.

In Cape Cod, Mass., TSA Officer Justine Waldron is also making masks. She uses Native American themes, comic book characters, and navigation themes in her masks. She’s also made one interesting modification: instead of using elastic to secure the masks over wearer’s ear

s, Waldron uses ribbon. As a former certified nurse’s assistant, Waldron remembers the elastic hurting her ears, and the ribbons provide the option to tie the mask behind the wearer’s head. Waldron started by providing her masks to friends, family and coworkers. Some of her friends and family work in the medical field and needed the masks as quickly as Waldron could make them.

Lead TSA Officer Kimberly Breedlove in Louisville, Ky., has joined with a neighbor in making headbands equipped with buttons for local nurses. The headbands, of course, help to hold back long hair to keep it from falling in the nurse’s face as they are working. But as an added bonus, the buttons on these headbands serve as another way to hook the elastic from facemasks and relieve the pressure on the nurse’s ears.

Employee sewing masks

A team of officers at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) are making masks out of an unusual material: socks. Lead TSA Officer Eliane Pascoal originally inspired her team towards this goal.

“I see homeless people and I got to thinking that none of them have access to masks during the pandemic,” said Pascoal. “I had seen a video online about how to make masks from socks.”

Pascoal and TSA Manager Nicole Parisi purchased 100 pairs of brand-new socks, and then led a team of officers in turning them into 200 masks which were then sealed in plastic baggies and distributed to two homeless shelters in the area.

“The face masks you made have helped our staff and guests feel safer during this uncertain time,” responded one of the shelters in a letter send to Parisi.