Fort Belvoir, Va. –
Wichita Branch Office Supervisory Auditor Karen Roepke is contributing to the health of her community by making masks in her free time. Karen is now teleworking and supervises her team of four auditors ensuring their audits are completed efficiently. After work, she moves to her second office, the sewing machine. Karen, who bought a sewing machine a few years ago but never really used it, got the idea to make masks from a friend who works in the local Veteran’s Affairs (VA) Medical Center. They were discussing the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment and the demand for non-medical masks when Karen decided she wanted to try sewing masks at home. “I had material laying around and a sewing machine and knew I could help,” said Karen. After a couple of internet searches, YouTube videos, and trial and error Karen completed her first mask and gave it to her friend. Since that first mask, word spread among friends, family, and workers at the VA of Karen’s skills. Based on suggestions, Karen has constantly refined her masks incorporating interfacing material as a filter layer, pipe cleaners around the top to make the seal tighter at the nose, and elastic bands for around the ears. Each mask takes about 45 minutes to make and so far she has made about 35. Karen plans to keep making more. “It’s such a small thing and everyone is so grateful. I am glad I can contribute,” says Karen of her mask project.