SYAers Stepping Up

As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and the number of infected cases globally climbs daily, SYA community members have stepped up to show leadership and resilience. We applaud the agility, resolve and compassion these alumni, parents and staff have shown to aid and strengthen their communities.

Are you sharing your time, your efforts, your resources with people in need right now? We'd love to hear your story! Let us know.

Sarah Comey Cluff FR'84  writes, "I am an advanced practice nurse working in community health at Lifelong Medical Care in the San Francisco East Bay Area. We are doing our best to screen and test as many of our 65,000 patients as possible across the East Bay. 

We have recently partnered with the City of Berkeley and UC Berkeley labs to greatly expand our testing capacity. This includes testing all Berkeley first responders who need it, active outreach to test our un-housed and house-bound populations by going to them, as well as having four drive through test sites up and running for up to 250 tests per day.

I am on the team that follows up with our covid positive patients to monitor symptom trajectory, particularly at that crucial 7- to 10-day window when people can get worse. We teach about self- isolation and write work letters for the majority who recover and need clearance to return to work. When symptoms are getting worse the patient gets a same day visit with a provider or advice to go to the ER if needed. 

At the same time, all our providers are supporting patients with the management of their medications and health conditions.  All this work up front is to prevent as many avoidable ER visits and hospitalizations as possible. Please support community health and access to care for all of our community members, we are a crucial upstream part of keeping our hospital system from being overwhelmed.

Posey Krakowski FR'79 shares, "As a quilter and fiber artist, and as an Episcopal priest who is forced to be at home (like many others) and unable to physically be present with my parishioners, I have been sewing masks for medical persons and others who need them.

I live in NYC, so we NEED masks. I will keep on sewing masks as long as I have materials and as long as this crisis lasts. I have made over 100 so far.

Additionally, we have been conducting worship services online, ministering to as many of our people as we can that way, as well as many new folks who are seeking meaning in these incredibly difficult times. I am so blessed to have two clergy colleagues who are easy to work with and the three of us are mutually supportive."

Zoe Feldshon CN'20's  Chinese host family sent her family a care package: 100 KN95 masks. Her parents are both physicians in  the Minneapolis area. This heartwarming story was featured on WKSTP. Read more.

Jee Kim FR'08's family has pivoted their manufacturing plant in S. Korea into a fabric mask production site to fulfill orders, including those from New York. Their Mamask fabric masks are made 100% cotton, with two eco-cotton fabric filters that are reusable and washable. He says, " We are able to manufacture 3,000 masks a day. As for the KN95 masks, I will be importing them from a trusted manufacturer  that supplies to hospitals. They also can supply protective body suits as well. 

Kate Vasicek Challis FR'03 has been sewing masks for the past few days. "I made cloth masks out of 100% cotton that have a nose bridge with a pipe cleaner inserted into a French seam. You can also insert an additional filter into a flap." She's made 30 so far. 

Claire Wang FR'20's family sent two shipments of masks to SYA France faculty courtesy of her father's foundation based in Hong Kong.  (Picture is SYA France Mina Qadir with one of her children, wearing the gifted masks.)

Susan McLean, Associate Director of Advancement and Director of Alumni Relations, helped turn her youngest daughter's Etsy shop into mask production. "Last year, I wore a 'superhero' mask as Polly Glot, defender of SYA. This year, we're making masks of a different kind. Co-opting materials used for scrunchies and other fabric-based products, we began sewing masks for local hospitals and other health care professionals. The need has grown significantly to include vulnerable populations within our community, as well as others. Over the last two weeks we have distributed more than 450 masks. The increased demand for supplies has made us become more creative. Who would have thought that elastic would become the toilet paper of craft stores? (600 yards are expected to arrive next week!) While we donate masks to hospitals, health care facilities,  essential workers, elderly and those who are immune-compromised, private sales help to replenish necessary inventory of supplies. My dining room table has become fabric central. We've shipped across the country and have had local midnight mailbox mask deliveries and pick ups. It's been heartwarming to see the support of many: from helping to deliver to cutting fabric to finding surprise supplies and donations in our mailbox and Venmo accounts.  We can see friends from a distance, wave to folks as they stop by our mailbox, and find positive ways to connect with our community.  It's a small way we can give back and control some of the chaos around us."

Alex Jermyn FR'92 writes "After reaching out to all of our friends and colleagues, we were able to fill half of our garage with N95 masks, gowns, and gloves. My wife then delivered them to Kaiser Oakland where she works as a physician. The outpouring of support from the local community was exceptional. We received donations from the construction industry, the local elementary and high school, as well as various neighbors. The need is still there throughout the country, so I encourage everyone to inquire with their local hospitals as to their needs and network within their community to provide whatever existing supplies they have. My kids helped load the supplies for delivery."

Emily Trower-Young CN'00 writes, " I'm grateful to be able to channel my energy into helping my neighbors and community, and also into my business and line of organic skin care products, Em & El Organics. I'm really excited to write you about our latest project "Operation Sailors Code", dedicated to safely bring our hardworking hand cream to the hands of frontline workers in NYC and the Tri-State area.

Our products are designed to heal and protect your skin in the harshest conditions on earth--they've been to Antarctica, sailed around the world, and are conducting scientific research in the Mojave Desert. They're a true extension of SYA in action in the world. These days, we think frequent hand washing falls under that category, too! A new Olympic sport for 2021 perhaps? When the pandemic hit NYC, I began asking, "How can we help as a business, while also creating opportunities for others to help as well? What role does skin care play in a pandemic?" Having grown up in the busiest ER in NYC as an 80's child (my mom ran the ER), the call to serve and help others is deeply embedded in my DNA.

In response, we launched "Operation Sailors Code" to create opportunities for people to send care packages to our frontline workers. Given my personal love of sailing and our brand's dedication to making products for outdoorsy people, we decided it would be appropriate to name this project after a time-honored tradition that sailors maintain--if someone is in trouble on the water, you are bound by the sailors code to aid those in distress."