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Sewing masks, giving back

Nancy Baraglia has been a tailor for 50 years, but she never expected the most important thing she may ever make is a face mask that could save a life.

“This is just unprecedented,” Nancy said. “In my 56 years it never dawned on me I would be making masks. But you realize the need and feel so helpless and you want to do something. I knew I could make them and I knew someone needed them and to find out who that someone was, was a really good feeling for me.”

Nancy is one of a handful of everyday people who have taken the extraordinary step of reaching out to Little City to make and give much needed masks for care providers and residents. Nancy said she had started making masks before connecting with Little City and wasn’t sure if she’d just have to stand outside Walmart and hand them out. But thankfully her daughter connected her to Little City and now Nancy has donated more than 90 masks to the agency.

Other sewing superstars have emerged in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, as friends Peg O’ Herron and Anna Hoffman have made roughly 300 masks for Little City thanks to a team effort. Peg and Anna thought of Little City thanks to their frequent bike club trips past the Palatine campus and knew it could be a place in need of masks as the crisis escalated.

Peggy O’Herron
Anna Hoffman











Peg said she and Anna were looking for ways to give locally and both had connections to Little City or similar agencies and saw a perfect opportunity to help some of the most vulnerable people.

“It’s been a wonderful experience for us,” Peg said. “We’re all retired and staying home and this gives us a real positive purpose. We’re more than happy to do it.”

Fabric donation from the O’Neill and Della-Peruta families
Jane Danley Cruz

Jane Danley Cruz, senior relationship manager at Little City, has help network and organize the project to bring people together who were looking for a place to help in this time of need.

Jane used her contacts through the group Illinois Wildlife Crafters – originally established to help animals displaced by the Australian wildfires – to find people looking to use their sewing talents to create masks for those at Little City.

Jane herself has sewn masks for Little City, as has Tina Lowry, director of health and wellness at Little City. Jane’s family has also contributed as her sister and friend have donated fabric and elastic to the cause.

“It has been amazing to see so many people be willing to help,” Jane said. “I am just happy to help any way I can and I know these masks can make a difference.”

All the donations and efforts allowed Little City to have our staff fully masked a week ago and distribute a second mask. We were also able to mask all of our residents.  If a mask breaks, Little City can replace it and has extra fabric to repair the other masks.

Many other people have helped this project come together. Liza, the first person to donate, sewed over 20 masks over a weekend. Little City drivers have been cutting fabric all week. Marla Gunderson, from Evanston, also donated masks.

The Marlene’s Baby Angels donated 50 masks and #Maskillinoisnow donated 60 masks.  Sandra Pilger is helping coordinate our Countryside team; drivers, DSPs, and case managers are all sewing over 50 masks daily, even bringing in their own sewing machines. A Friends of Countryside member, Sue, is delivering materials to sewers and is also helping sew too. Multiple friends of staff members have also donated masks.

The masks were made thanks to a supply donation from Amy Rehbock, Kim Della-Peruta, Cassandra Stephens, and Nicole DiPaola. The O’Neill and Della-Peruta families donated two large boxes of supplies. Theresa Moran went through donated t-shirts and pre-washed them for drivers to cut the fabric.

Learn about other ways to help with Little City’s Coronavirus response. 

"There are so many capable and caring staff at Little City, past and present, who have helped Clifford. He has made a lot of progress in mastering his behavior."

Colleen, Mother of a child living in a ChildBridge Group Home