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Shawnee women make masks for Belfair staff, residents

Elisabeth Slay
Marian Salwierak and Barbara Kimball with staff wearing the masks and adult bibs they made for the staff and residents at Belfair of Shawnee.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, two Shawnee women, Marian Salwierak and Barbara Kimball, have hand-sewn medical masks and adult bibs for the staff and residents at Belfair of Shawnee.

According to Salwierak, her mother is a resident at Belfair and Salwierak has been volunteering at the nursing home for a while, but when the coronavirus pandemic began she decided to make masks for the staff members.

"I saw a request on the TV station in Stillwater requesting people that knew how to sew," Salwierak said. "My son-law-in tagged me on Facebook and I found a pattern and I began making the masks."

She said she's made over a 100 masks so far for Belfair staff and residents and people throughout the community.

"I'm glad to help in any way I can," Salwierak said. "I'm 70-years-old. I can't go out and it helps me keep going and doing something to help stop the (virus from spreading)."

Salwierak explained she has a lot of fabric and hopes to continue making more colorful masks for people to keep their spirits up.

Salwierak said in addition to making masks, she has also made food for the staff members and she plans on making them more food and helping in any way that she can.

Like Salwierak, Barbara Kimball also has parents who are residents at Belfair and although she hasn't made masks, Kimball said she makes adult bibs for the residents to use when they eat.

So far, Kimball said she has made about 42 bibs in an assortment of colors and patterns and was inspired to do it after seeing how old and tattered the previous bibs were.

"I've always volunteered at Belfair...I just wanted to do more and I have unlimited fabric at my house and multiple sewing machines and I love to sew," Kimball said. "They really need this."

Kimball said she was originally going to make about 50 bibs, but has decided to increase her goal to 100 so that all residents have several bibs they can use.

For Kimball this is also a way for her to stay connected with her parents and the other residents she has become close with over the years.

Kimball said she appreciates the staff at Belfair and plans on making cookies for them in the future.

According to Belfair Administrator Genia Manion, both Salwierak and Kimball have always gone out of their way to help the staff and residents at Belfair.

"It just eases some of the stress that we have because we have one case of masks and before (Marian) brought those in, we were trying to conserve and do the best we can with what we had," Manion said. "When (Marian) brought those in that just relieved some stress knowing that we have these as back ups too."

Manion explained it's also beneficial because the masks can be reused after they're washed and sanitized and the unique designs on them can make people happy.

"When the residents get to look at someone with a mask on they just don't see this white or blue thing plastered across their face. There's yellow, there's pink, there's blue and there's flowers and they're just fun and anything we can do to make their day better while they're all in here not seeing their families, that's our goal," Manion said.