Helping hands at Tallgrass Creek

Seniors make face masks at Tallgrass Creek

Overland Park, KS – July 27, 2020 – As the COVID-19 pandemic escalated, Linda Westbrook, a resident at Tallgrass Creek, a continuing care retirement community developed and managed by Erickson Living, and her fellow neighbors came up with a unique way to thank the staff for the “wonderful care” they received during the pandemic.

“I enjoy working with my hands, so as face masks became necessary, I decided to make some,” says Linda. As chair of the community's resident advisory committee (RAC), Linda gained approval from the group to sell the masks for $5 each with proceeds going to the staff appreciation fund. The RAC, a group of elected residents who communicate suggestions to management, helped promote the project and added hands-on assistance. Linda turned to YouTube for a mask-making tutorial and also used a pattern recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To spread the word, she shared her new endeavor in A Week at the Creek, a newsletter for residents published by Executive Director Jean Landreville’s office. Linda also mentioned the masks during interactive conversations with her neighbors on the community’s in-house television station, and many enthusiastically volunteered to help.

“We had 44 hands-on volunteers, some who don’t even sew,” says Linda. “With their help, it quickly turned into a larger, even more meaningful project.” While some volunteers actually did sew, others cut fabric and elastic, ironed pleats in the masks, and readied them for the staff to deliver. Additional residents including members of the Tallgrass Creek quilting group donated eye-catching fabric so the masks are all different.

Orders rolled in as the word spread: at last count, the group had created and sold 620 masks. They mailed masks to off-campus family members for a small charge. “We’re still getting reorders from residents, staff, and their family and friends,” says Linda. “It was truly a labor of love and fun to do together while we were all sheltering.” Special masks promoting the University of Kansas and Kansas State University yielded even more donations during a silent auction held via telephone. In total, the mask making produced a whopping $4,000 for the staff appreciation fund.

“We had some fun with that,” says Linda. “But mostly this is about the staff and how wonderful they’ve been during this time. It’s one way to say ‘thank you’.

About Tallgrass Creek: Tallgrass Creek, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 65-acre campus in Overland Park, Kansas. The not-for-profit community of more than 500 residents and 350 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of the community. Additional information can be found at TallgrassCreek.com.

Photo: Linda Westbrook prepares face masks for delivery she and her fellow neighbors made as a fundraising project benefitting Tallgrass Creek’s staff, which raised a total of $4,000 for the staff appreciation fund.

Written by Mary Bush