Empowering Communities

Mother and son make face masks for essential workers

May 12, 2020

ComEd employee Genisses Vazquez and her 8-year-old son are helping others stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, one stitch at a time.

Together, they have made more than 700 face masks (and counting) and donated them to family members, neighbors and essential workers.  

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the area, Vazquez’s son, who has asthma, was advised to wear a surgical mask to protect himself. While watching news stories on others making face masks at home, Vazquez and her son were inspired to buy materials and start making their own.

“My son and I like to volunteer, and with the current situation, this is how we can give back,” she said. “After taking a break for the weekend, my son couldn’t wait to make more.”

Masks have been donated to area hospitals – including Advocate Christ, Loyola University and Rush University medical centers, as well as University of Illinois Hospital, the Chicago Police Department, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, and to grocery store employees and other essential service workers.

Health care professionals wearing face masks made by Vazquez and her son

Vazquez said she and her son have received thank-you messages from hospital workers. But “knowing we’re helping the community and helping keep people safe” is what Vazquez said their efforts are really about.

Vazquez hopes her and her son’s story will inspire others to give back during these hard times.

“If you have the materials, I encourage others to make face masks,” she said. “If you don’t, participate in virtual volunteer events like calling residents at senior centers who can’t see their families right now. All they need is someone to talk to.”