Nyack Mask Makers Ramps Up During Pandemic Crisis

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Two Local Artists Turn Mask Making Into “War-Time” Manufacturing Endeavor

By Tina Traster

Having become a center for mask-making during the coronavirus pandemic, the little Village of Nyack has shown how big its heart is and how industriousness it can be when called to the frontline.

The volunteer movement called Nyack Mask Makers, born a mere two weeks ago, has produced more than 4,000 face masks for Nyack Montifiore Hospital, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, Nyack Ambulance Corp, the Orangetown Police, the County Sheriff’s department, and more.

The driving force behind Nyack Mask Makers is two local artists, Bill Batson and Donna Timm, who have both taken it upon themselves to turn their talent and energy into a veritable “war-time” factory. Using old-fashioned sewing machines and the power of social media, the team has been able to not only provide masks but to spread the message on how important it is to wear one.

The CDC recommends masks should be worn in public by all, not just those who’ve contracted the COVID-19 virus.

“It’s been an honor to watch the community support each other,” said Don Hammond on a press conference zoom meeting today. “The Nyack Mask Makers is one of the critical ways community member have become leaders in the community.”

Hammond also shouted out to three other online efforts: NyackEats, which lists restaurants that are serving to-go, NyackBizRoundTable, which keeps businesses up to date on loans and other critical information, and ThankYouNyackHospital, which lends emotional support by serenading healthcare workers daily.

Since its launch, Nyack Mask Makers has drawn 300 volunteers to sew masks, and they are looking for more to sign up. More than 2,000 masks have been delivered to Nyack Montifiore Hospital, which was the group’s first and most important target.

Much of the fabric for mask making is being provided free from The Quilt Tree in Nyack, which has been supported by a GoFundMe campaign that has to date raised nearly $5,000. Timm said “lots of fabric and elastic” has been donated.

While Nyack Mask Makers continues to produce masks, the team has taken on a second mission: to educate the Village and beyond on the importance of donning a mask. A poster featuring local celebrity Mario the Magician making a mask step-by-step will be hung throughout the village. Additionally, the mask-making lesson is available online at Nyack Mask Maker’s website.

Home-made masks simply require a 20 inch by 20-inch square of fabric and two rubber bands. Masks can be constructed from bandanas, scarves, a portion of a tee-shirt.

“You don’t need a sewing machine to make these masks,” said Timm.

There is some glimmer of hope that the curve is flattening in New York, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

But as Batson points out, returning to normal is going to be a marathon, not a sprint.

“You know when you’re on a plane and they tell you, in case of an emergency to put on an oxygen mask, and then help others,” said Batson. “Well it’s similar. We need people to put on a mask, and then help others to protect themselves too.”

As Batson points out, Nyack operates as a village. In trying times like these, collaborative efforts accomplish concrete goals but they are also powerful healing elixirs. Nyack Mask Makers is ready to help people throughout the county.