Masks for Memphis
By: Alan Bernal
With the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world, several Memphians have decided to help those in need. Many essential workers and other people have been in dire need of protection during this time due to the national shortage of masks. Patricia Possel is one woman who chose to tackle the pandemic head-on. Mrs. Possel has been sewing for most of her life, so when the problem of a mask shortage arose, she immediately decided to get to work.
For the most part, sewing was a hobby for Mrs. Possel, often making dresses for her children or using the skill to make costumes for her daughters competing in the dance world. When she saw there was a need for more masks, she did not hesitate to use her skill to help others. When asked why she chose to aid, she responded with a beautiful message stating, “There’s always somebody who has more than you, and there’s always somebody who has less. I feel like it’s our duty to go and seek those out that need some help and use the talents that God gives you to help them in whatever way you possibly can.” Patricia is a firm believer in using the gifts we have been given to help others, which she shows immensely in her decision to help the community.
“I never had a pattern for a mask. Why would we make masks in general,” Mrs. Possel explains. The first mask she made took her about an hour to make, but switching up designs and perfecting the pattern, she now can make ten masks in one hour. Messing around with the pattern she found, she decided to make the mask all cotton, even the straps for the quality to be the best. Mrs. Possel expressed that she was a “Woman on a mission.” stating, “When the call came out, all these hospitals and everybody else that don’t have personal protection equipment (PPE) were in panic.… Then it was like, why don’t we start using cloth masks again because, for more than a century, that’s what everyone used.” With her expertise in different fabrics and cotton, she was able to identify the best material to use; she explains how quilting cotton, which is tight weave cotton, better helps block pathogens.
Patricia says she has made about 110 masks so far, and her fabric stock has amazingly been from her stash. She wishes she could make more, but is still waiting on an order she placed since all the stores are closed. Lastly, Mrs. Possel does not charge for her masks. She says, “If this is what we need to do, then this is what we need to do.” During this tough time, her contribution to the community shows that no person is too small to make a difference. Patricia Possel uses her skill and materials to make a lasting impact on those who were in need.
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