Sheree VanNoy Takes Mask-Masking to a Whole New Level
Vol.6 Issue 4

As mask-wearing becomes more of an everyday occurrence in our public settings, several FAA employees are dragging out their sewing machines to do their part. But for one FAA employee, there is no dragging out, as Sheree VanNoy, a Strategic Business Planner in the Office of Quality Systems & Business Resources Staff (AMC-3) is also a seamstress. She keeps her sewing machine nearby in case something needs to be mended, created, embroidered, or covered. Since mid-March, Sheree’s sewing machine has been humming. When Sheree realized that she could help slow the spread of COVID-19 by making fabric masks, out came her scraps of material, elastic, pipe cleaners, thread and scissors, and she hasn’t stopped since.

Sheree VanNoy holds up one of the masks she made during one of her parking lot deliveries.
Sheree making a drop-off mask deliver to co-workers in a Walmart parking lot.
Celeste Flemming asked Sheree if she could make a mask for one of her essential workers.

At first, her level of giving started with her immediate co-workers, making masks for everyone in the office, and in some cases making a few extras for their spouses or family members. Sheree gained a few mask-making pointers from Nicole Gage, HR Director of the Aeronautical Center who had been making masks and who had recruited her entire family to aid in the process. Nicole advised Sheree about the best pattern to use, the need for creating a filter pocket, and what kind of filter to use when meeting the N-95 criteria for filtering .3 microns. In the process, Sheree learned that HEPA rated vacuum bags could be cut up and used in the filter pocket. Soon thereafter, Sheree was making filtered masks for her friends living in Georgia and Los Angeles. Word of Sheree’s generosity continued to spread, and soon Sheree was making masks for individuals in other FAA organizations.

On several occasions, Sheree will send out an email to her colleagues saying that she’s made more masks, ’come and get them!’ Then she leaves them on the counter with a first come, first served approach.
Members of the AMC-3 staff sport some of Sheree’s handcrafted masks.

Having more material than requests, Sheree started asking around to see who needed masks and where they needed them. She began personally delivering masks to people who made requests. She also realized the need to help the homeless in Oklahoma and delivered over 40 masks to the city’s destitute. She made masks for her neighbors and then decided that she should participate in the University of Oklahoma’s Million Mask Challenge and OU Medicine, as the state prepares to treat an expected surge in COVID-19 cases. Since there is not yet a vaccine for the virus, mask protection is key to preventing its spread. Masks play a crucial role in protecting Oklahomans during and after the anticipated peak. Anyone who is interested in providing supplies can contact giving@oumedicine.com.

Sheree assited Misha & Danny Carlisle in delivering masks to Oklahoma’s homeless.
Somehow, Sheree manages to find fabric to fit everyone’s tastes.
Grantly Brooks shares a smile from under one of Sheree’s handcrafted masks.

To date, Sheree had sewn and distributed nearly 200 masks. She also delivered masks to the Children’s Hospital. Sheree, full of energy and spunk doesn’t see anything spectacular about what she’s doing , she states, "Well, my mother sewed, and her mother sewed, but she couldn’t teach me much because she was left handed and everything she did was backwards to me, but I did watch a lot. I learned to sew in Home Economics class. I had to take 4 years of it, so eventually something had to ’stick’ after that much exposure!"

As if her mask making abilities aren’t enough, Sheree willingly provides written instructions on how to care for the masks. If anyone is still in need of a face covering and wants to be meet a real saint; live, and in-person, (after all Sheree is from Louisiana), you can contact her at Sheree.VanNoy@faa.gov.

Even BHAG mascots in the office wear Sheree’s masks!

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus, and to help people who may unknowingly have the virus from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

 
 
 
 
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