Masks, masks, everywhere masks. And Corners Outreach is no stranger to the industry. This Peachtree Corners non-profit organization whose forte has been tutoring children of low-income families and offering lawn care services to residents in the area has branched out to making masks.
According to Larry Campbell, Executive Director of Corners Outreach, his organization has found 101 Mothers of the families they serve who have sewing skills. Fifteen of them are employed so far to sew masks for Corners Outreach.
All of these women are Hispanic and have worked previously for the food industry as underemployed laborers until they lost their jobs to COVID-19 because they were considered non-essential workers. So essentially Corners Outreach lifted the moms out of unemployment and gave them jobs where they can work at home and be with their children.
“These ladies were not working before and now have found a way to use their skills, be able to stay at home with their kids, care for our community and better provide for their families,” said Paige Havens of Gwinnett Cares, another non-profit organization who has partnered with Corners Outreach in providing food and tutoring to the local families in need.
“We need to encourage people to buy masks from Corners Outreach to help empower women right here in our community. We are addressing multiple needs in our community—the supply of Personal Protection Equipment, putting unemployed women to work, helping low-income families break poverty cycles and strengthening families,” said Havens.
Campbell said, “I have been brainstorming how to employ women in our community. . . when COVID hit and face masks were in great demand, it was clear that we could impact our families in a positive way, as well as impact the community positively to stop the spread of the virus.”
One of the Moms expressed her gratitude of her employment at Corners Outreach.
“I like to sew, and I’m grateful that I don’t have to pay a babysitter while I work. Instead, I get to be with my children and teach them about my traditions,” said Teresa.
The mothers are producing 200 masks per day. They are triple-layered and made from soft cotton materials. They range in colors from blue plaid to solid red to multi-colors. The masks cost $10 each.
“We’re trying to keep the price down so we can give back to the Moms,” said Campbell.
“We buy all the cloth materials, thread, scissors and even sewing machines if the Moms don’t have one. We also buy the plastic we wrap the masks in,” Campbell added.
Four dollars per mask goes back to the Moms so if they sew three masks in an hour, they make twelve dollars per hour. The Moms insert a card in each mask package announcing their origin comes from Corners Outreach and Gwinnett Cares.
“I think the masks’ purpose is to protect our neighbors. In the long term, people are better off if they earn their living rather than receive free hand-outs,” explained Campbell.
Maurie Ladson, the Program Director for Corners Outreach and the project manager for the masks, picks up the masks from the Mothers twice a week.
Ladson said, “The experience is wonderful to be able to work with these skilled women and watch them grow in their new-found roles of helping the community. It is uplifting to them to know they’re contributing to the community. These are immigrant Moms who are really enthusiastic. I definitely saw an increase in self-esteem and self-importance among them.”
The proceeds from the sale of the masks go back into the Academy for tutoring and for material and supplies.
Corners Outreach started in 2012 as a tutoring assistance program and then in 2017 it launched its lawn care service which employs the men of the families to help out clients in the Gwinnett, DeKalb and Fulton counties. For more information, visit cornersoutreach.org/store.