Valentyna Pavsyukova had an idea. Because of COVID-19, the founder of Chalice of Mercy couldn’t travel to Ukraine to continue her charitable mission there. But a Facebook post caught her attention. It was an urgent plea for facemasks, especially for nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the Chippewa Valley area where she stays with Sister Petra Gwidt, at the Institute of St. Joseph in Boyd.
Right around the same time, Sr. Petra heard from a neighbor about a nearby nursing home that was in exactly this predicament. Valentyna and Sr. Petra asked the nursing home’s director how many masks they needed, and she said 250. With typical mission fervor, the ladies committed to the task.
They would need fabric and elastic. The first was not so hard. The director brought over a box of freshly laundered, older medical gowns and protective covers that could be harvested for the purpose. The local quilting club ladies also stepped up, pooling their inventory of often costly material. But the elastic – that was the problem. The fabric stores were sold out, because everybody was using it to make homemade masks.
Suddenly Valentyna remembered a little Mennonite shop in the area, and off she went. Sure enough, they had elastic. Their jaws dropped to hear how much Valentyna wanted, but on learning the reason, they gladly obliged.
Sr. Petra and Valentyna converted the house into a workshop, found a good fabric pattern online, and were off to the races. Fabric was ironed and cut, the sewing machine hummed nonstop, and the lovely masks were stacked neatly – higher and higher – on tables.
In short order they had a box of 250 facemasks ready for delivery to the nursing home. But that’s just the start, as they intend to make about 1000 more for other facilities, and some will include high-filtration fabric for healthcare workers.
The nursing home director was deeply moved to receive the 250 facemasks, crafted so beautifully and with so much love. She offered to pay for them, but Valentyna and Sr. Petra said no, but if she wanted to make a donation to Chalice of Mercy, they would use it for much-needed food and medicine for people in the war zone in Ukraine.
As she went to open the box of facemasks, the nursing home director saw a large label with an icon of God the Father and the following message:
“As a team of Chalice of Mercy mission, we thank you all for your dedication, love and care you give to the most vulnerable people in this time of tremendous need due to COVID-19. We pray for all of you with much love! May God Our Heavenly Father Bless you and your families, may He protect you and keep you, your families and those you serve safe and healthy! Thank you!!!”
To learn more about Chalice of Mercy and to see an interview with Valentyna Pavsyukova in 7 short video segments, visit www.diolc.org/chalice-of-mercy.