A Stitch in Time: Group Teams Up to Sew Masks for DePaul Residents, Others

Beth Nicastro wearing yellow cloth mask.

Beth Nicastro, an adjunct faculty member in the UB School of Nursing, helped organize a group to sew masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Published June 11, 2020


Beth Nicastro and Katie Schueler, adjunct faculty who both teach undergraduate nursing clinicals for UB students, teamed up with community members to sew 300 masks for health care workers and DePaul, a non-profit organization that offers a range of services that include addiction prevention, residential mental health, senior living and other support programs.

Jill Bryant, senior SRO program director at DePaul, procured donated materials and distributed the masks to people in residential programs across WNY. The group also donated masks to BryLin Hospital, Elderwood, South Buffalo Mercy educators, private OB groups, veterans’ homes and private families.

Jill Bryant holding supplies.

Jill Bryant, DePaul's senior SRO program director.

Schueler, who quips that she is “not much of a seamstress,” recognized the growing need for masks and set out to do what she could to rally community members to sew.

“I reached out to those I thought would be in need and connected them to those I knew would be willing to sew,” Schuler says. “I started with just reaching out on social media and using the group message for our instructors in the clinical course I am teaching. The instructors were able to identify more professionals/facilities who needed masks, and both Beth [Nicastro] and a West Seneca police officer set us up with donations of supplies, in addition to the supplies that individual sewers from our churches and friends were contributing.”

Maxine holding a mask.

Maxine Anstett from St. Mary's Church in Lancaster helped sew several masks.

It has made a big difference because at first we only had enough masks for the residents to have one each,” says Bryant, who oversees a residential program for people with mental illness. “Since we’ve received this and other donations, we’ve been able to supply them with a second mask.”

Bryant says that because of community support from people like Nicastro and her team, DePaul have been able to help their residents stay safe in the building and in the community.

Nicastro and Schueler recruited neighbors, teachers, friends, family and church members, including the Lancaster Ladies of Charity and Junior Ladies of Charity, to assist the effort. Nicastro’s mother also assisted the effort. Materials were donated to the group by Colvin Cleaners.