The world can be a scary place in the midst of a pandemic, particularly for senior members of the population statistically more vulnerable to COVID-19. But for a number of St. Charles Parish members of the Retired and Senior Volunteers (RSVP), that hasn’t eroded their kindness or willingness to help another.
Recently, eight RSVP volunteers made over 100 PPE masks between them, donating the finished products to members of the local Veteran’s Hospital. The cloth and N95 masks were made after RSVP member Virgie Naquin inquired about starting a project to make masks to protect those in most need.
“She contacted us one day and asked if we had any requests for masks,” said RSVP interim director Jeanne Arabie. “I said we didn’t at this time, but I made a phone call … one of our coworkers has a wife who is a nurse at the Veteran’s Hospital. I asked if they could use some and sure enough … so we had eight volunteers and everyone got to work. But it was Miss Virgie’s idea.”
Naquin, 95, inspired a helpful cause. RSVP coordinators went out to buy the necessary materials to make the masks and brought them to the seniors’ homes.
“During the war, they had volunteers crochet and knit for them … so why not have people do something like that right now?” Naquin said. “There are plenty of people doing nothing, so let’s do something.”
It wasn’t long before the batch was finished. Arabie collected them, washed and sanitized them, then brought them for donation.
“They all wanted to know if (the hospital workers) needed more,” Arabie said. “They’re just willing to help in any way they can.”
Mary St. Germain, of Destrehan and among the eight volunteers, said she enjoyed doing it, not just to help out, but to give herself some direction while needing to stay indoors.
“I want to be useful,” St. Germain said. “It felt good … you need to have a purpose in life, and right now, that’s mine, to help out someone in any way I can. I’m over 70, and this is really the only way I can do that at the moment, because we don’t venture out. So I’m happy to do it.”
She made 15 masks and said so long as she had a pattern to follow, she was good to go.
Ditto for Naquin.
“There were directions on how to make the masks, so I just followed those and it was easy,” Naquin said. “It took awhile, but it was easy.”
St. Germain said she and her husband go walk in the mornings to break up the monotony. But otherwise, options to do so are limited.
“You try to find other stuff to do in the meantime,” she said. “I made some masks for my two sons as well and some extra ones for anyone who needed them.”
Arabie said the pandemic has been difficult for a number of RSVP members, who understandably feel isolated.
“Our activities have been really slow,” Arabie said. “We have volunteers calling and checking to make sure everyone is doing fine. A few (of the seniors) call us and make sure that we’re doing well, which makes us feel good. But I know a number of people have been feeling lonely (without the ability to participate in the program).
“Sometimes, they just want someone to come by and wave to them. They’re lonely. They’re missing all this … (but) they’re very selfless. They really want to help people out however they can.”