Em Straley, Women’s and Children’s nurse at Rapid City Hospital has a Thunder Stroke 111 Indian Motorcycle she loves to ride around the Black Hills. She also loves helping people and cares deeply about her community. The name of her bike gave her an idea – why not make 111 masks and hand them out to 111 strangers on her Thunder Stroke 111?
So that’s what she decided, and to date she’s handed out 103 of her 111 masks in an effort to keep people safer amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Em read up on CDC recommendations and used a no-sew design to make motorcycle face shields into thicker, protective masks. Feeling fortunate that she and her husband are still working, Em used her stimulus check to buy the supplies for her project.
“I’m just trying to make people safer and help them protect themselves and others,” Em said. When she has time, she simply throws some masks in her saddlebag and sets out on her bike, stopping at businesses, food trucks, coffee shops, the Indian dealership, parking lots, etc.
She’s received a range of reactions to her act of goodwill, including people who are confused by what she’s doing and those who are incredibly grateful. People Em knows personally who have seen what she’s doing have reached out to her, asking if she can send them masks. In the process of mailing some masks to friends, she provided masks to the postal workers.
Em said she was inspired by fellow caregiver, Jodi Paverud, Clinical Resource Nurse with Labor & Delivery at Rapid City Hospital, who started her own mask-making effort. Jodi and some of her friends and family have made over 1,200 masks for the community, and at least 600 have gone to Monument Health. She was featured on the news after creating a mask-making tutorial that was posted on Facebook and YouTube.
“Quilting is my therapy, so I enjoy doing this, but it’s also something I can do to help in this time of crisis,” Jodi said. She had already made hundreds of masks before being one of several people to receive a grant from MED5 Federal Credit Union to purchase more fabric and supplies.
“I can’t go anywhere right now, so why not do something useful? If I can help someone from passing it on to someone else, then it’s worth it,” Jodi said.
Em said that while businesses are reopening, she hopes people continue to be cautious by wearing masks, practicing good hand hygiene and following social distancing guidelines. As her Facebook page says, “Please stay at home so that we can be free to roam this summer.”
Read more about the MED5 grants and others who have helped with mask-making efforts in our community by visiting our News page.