Editor’s Note: Nothing like a global pandemic to remind us how lucky we are to live in a small, tight-knit community where no one is a stranger and everyone deserves compassion. For some Carpinterians, the COVID-19 pandemic has become their Superman phone booth, when and where to activate their powers. We marvel at what so many members of the community have done to make the discomfort bearable and sometimes even beautiful. When the going gets tough, these Carterians set off.
In mid-February, Pat Beals, 80, a retired Halloween costume maker, began making fabric masks in her Arbol Verde garage. By mid-March, more than a dozen neighbors from Concha Loma had joined Beals’ local production line, making 3,000 sheet masks in the first week of April. By that time, the group had given themselves a name, Neighbor to Neighbor, and had made enough masks for Carpinteria’s retail, food, and medical staff. With no plans to slow down, the mask-making brigade had increased in number and, by the end of May, had completed 9,600 masks with 69 volunteers.
Beals has a background in mass production. She is the founder of Teetot & Company, Inc., a family owned Halloween costume business that supplies Costco and other big box stores. She taught mass production in China for 20 years. Now, working with a group of domestic sewers, including 12 of the Crafty Ladies of the Carpinteria Community Church, she has directed that expertise towards a formidable goal: to get a mask on every adult in Carpinteria.
The first objective of the group was to cover the homeless population; Once accomplished, they quickly began distributing their brightly colored 100% cotton masks to employees in grocery stores, retail stores, restaurants and health care agencies. Soon they were getting calls from all over Carpinteria and Santa Barbara.
âOur goal was to put a mask on every adult face in Carp and I think we’ve come close,â says Beals. âThe institutions of Santa Barbara kept asking us to make their masks, but we told them they had to wait until we finished our hometown. And we stuck to it. “
On the neighborhood production line, Beals has assigned volunteers to specific details who are led by captains. Some wash, dry and iron, others cut fabric, thread or elastic, and there are a lot of them behind sewing machines. All sections are carried out in batches of 20. This division of labor and clear organization have contributed to the group’s ability to produce at high volumes.
âMost of the credit goes to the strong and caring women at Carpinteria who worked on their sewing machines for hours every day, for endless months, after feeding their husbands and children,â Beals explains. âThe Carpinteria women are a force to be saluted. ”