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Masked heroes of the Berkshires

Join us in a round of applause for front line heroes, hidden behind their masks.

At hospitals across the country, N95 masks are in short supply. Peter Tsai, a material scientist and engineer who developed the N95 mask with virus-blocking technology, is emerging from retirement to help figure out how to disinfect the single-use masks for reuse.

For non-medical individuals, hospital masks are impossible to find or order. Since Governor Baker ordered the wearing of a mask whenever people venture out of the home, a flurry of mask making has taken place in the Berkshires.

The toile fabric from Edith Wharton’s bedroom has been donated by The Mount for use in making masks. Photo: Nynke Dorhout

Last week Susan Wissler, executive director of The Mount, announced that five yards of the toile fabric used in Edith Wharton’s bedroom will be produced by the French textile manufacturer and donated for use in masks, as part of an initiative spearheaded by Kate Louzon, Berkshire County Coronavirus Community Assistance coordinator. All over the Berkshires, individuals are making masks on sewing machines, sharing patterns made available by news sources, or putting them together with the most humble of materials, such as a bandanna folded in two or some basic fabric held together by two rubber bands.

No matter what form they take, masks must be worn, and a cross section of area mask wearers who face the public on a daily basis reveal the sources of their masks for this photo essay.

What can be said to these masked heroes, braving molecules with good cheer and full hearts, often for minimum wage and, on rare occasions, hazard pay?  Because of them, there is a respirator and a professional who knows how to use it, a clear signal on the Internet, a dark roast coffee at a window in the middle of a snow storm, a bottle of what is required, a slice of hot pizza, fresh baked sourdough bread, sensitive ministrations for quarantined souls unsure of this new reality, and finally, a chief of police waiting to take your call.

If you run into any of these folks, say thanks.

Amanda Bates, Front-of-House, The Lantern Bar and Grill, Pittsfield, mask made by Jenna Lanphear. Photo: Mary A. Nelen

 

Ben Conesew, Cheese Monger, Rubiner’s, Great Barrington, mask custom-made by Frank Muytjes of Kenmore Hall in Richmond. Photo: Mary A. Nelen

 

Aryonah Buffoni, Waitress, Betty’s Pizza Shack, Lenox, mask provided by employer. Photo: Mary A. Nelen

 

Elmer Lainez, Line Clearing, National Grid, mask issued by ARS Corporation. Photo: Mary A. Nelen

 

Fred, Cashier, Nejaime’s Liquor Store, Stockbridge, mask made by wife Shirley. Photo by Mary A. Nelen

 

Rosalynn Frederick, Quality and Training Manager Stanton Home, Great Barrington, mask provided by employer. Photo courtesy of Stanton Home.

 

Monica Havill, Drive-Thru Window Server, Dunkin’ Donuts, Lee, mask provided by employer. Photo by Mary A. Nelen

 

Dr. Michael Kaplan, Community Health Programs, Lee Family Practice, mask provided by medical suppliers and federal and state emergency preparedness teams. Photo courtesy of Community Health Programs.

 

Thomas Lampiasi, Baker, Berkshire Mountain Bakery, Housatonic, mask provided by employer. Photo by Mary A. Nelen

 

Matthew Rubiner, Owner, Rubiner’s, Great Barrington, mask made from fabric donated by Sandra Boyton, made by a friend. Photo: Mary A. Nelen

 

Josh Pacheco, Emergency Room Physician, Fairview Hospital, mask issued by employer. Photo by Mary A. Nelen

 

Alifia Panina, Volunteer, Stanton Home, Great Barrington, mask provided by employer. Photo courtesy of Stanton Home

 

WeiWei Shi, Manager, Shiro Kitchen and Asian Market, Great Barrington,mask purchased at CVS. Photo: May A. Nelen