#MyMaskMyStory: “We have had to change so many things”

Southern  | August 19, 2020
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Part of our Together While Apart campaign, #MyMaskMyStory is a collection of personal accounts from individuals with deep ties to the COVID-19 pandemic. These include those who have volunteered, those who have donated, and those who have received.

Edited by Dilber Shatursun

“A lot of things have changed through this pandemic. It has truly affected the way we are able to serve the community.  We had to close down to our youth at the [Just Do it Now] center for now and we are working on reopening safely.”

“In the meantime, we recognized that providing a hot meal for kids daily is a necessity. We have also provided hot meals to senior citizens, the disabled, poverty-level adults, and homeless people. During this pandemic, we have had to change so many things in the way that we handle daily activities. Providing love and attention is part of what we do daily, and not being able to hug a person when they are struggling has impacted both us and the people we serve. We are missing spending time with our youth and being able to mentor them daily.”

“We come from a smaller community [in Texas] and being able to get PPE and afford it has been difficult. We go through a lot of masks here at Just Do It Now and we also need to make sure the staff have masks on a regular basis for when they are out in the community.”

“I enjoy being able to see a person’s face and recognize them. I enjoy smiling at people and see them be able to smile back. When I realized that it was a necessity to wear masks daily and when going out, I was concerned that it would be hard to get them and hard for people to afford them. I never thought we would be in a position to have to wear masks on a regular basis.”

“We are so grateful for the masks Tzu Chi [Southern] has provided us and others in our community!  We know that we can wear them and help be a part of the solution to slowing down the spread of COVID-19. We know that we can serve our community safely! I would like to tell all that have been a part of making this happen- THANK YOU. You and your work is very much appreciated. Words can not express how grateful we are for your kind gesture.”

Barbara “Barbie” Fortenberry is the Interim Assistant Executive Director of Just Do it Now,  a faith-based community center in Wharton, Texas. Their diverse programming addresses the needs of low-income families, children, parents, senior citizens, and more. Barbie is also a Tzu Chi volunteer and has worked with Tzu Chi Southern volunteers in the past through Hurricane Harvey and long-term recovery programs. Catch up on the entire #MyMaskMyStory collection here.

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