BY BETH DEDMAN
Because Homeless New York City residents are at a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19, the Center for Urban Community Services is calling on volunteers to donate sewn face masks.
On March 20, CUCS called for fabric face masks on their social media pages and since then have had masks pouring in from across the country, said Mary Taylor, chief development and communications officer of CUCS.
“We are amazed at how people responded to our call and are really helping us help the most vulnerable people in our city right now,” Taylor said. “It is truly awe-inspiring and we are truly grateful.”
This nationwide effort has helped distribute 1,500 face masks to street outreach and medicine programs, 450 face masks to CUCS staff, 800 face masks to homeless New Yorkers in CUCS shelters.
People from all over the country have mailed in hand-sewn face masks from all across New York State, the east coast and from as far away as Alaska, California and Washington state. This has led to CUCS raising their goal to distribute 5,000 masks.
“We had someone living in Anchorage who was a New Yorker, and she loves Alaska, but she is homesick,” Taylor said. “She wished she could do more. She sent 20 masks that she sewed.”
CUCS is one of New York’s largest social services and serves 50,000 people annually. They are responsible for housing for individuals living on the streets and run three shelters and safe havens. They provide social service and care to 2400 units in 13 permanent housing sites.
CUCS has many frontline workers in their medicine and shelter programs, such as doctors, office managers and case workers. Many of these masks go to keep their CUCS staff equipped in adequate PPE.
“The more masks we get, the more we can get them out there,” Taylor said.
More information for how to donate is available at Cucs.org firstname.lastname@example.org