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Making masks as a way to help

Jane Rodriguez [a pseudonym) has been making protective face masks and giving them away to anyone who contacts her.

Rodriguez is a 20-year-old Shafter High graduate, born in Bakersfield but raised in Wasco.

Halfway through her studies at Bakersfield College, she realized her heart was in cosmetology; however, due to COVID-19, she is currently unemployed but plans on attending cosmetology school to become a hairstylist (@hairbyjessicanv) as soon as she is able.

"A little over a month ago, I saw a post on Twitter for free masks in Bakersfield, so I reached out and was kindly given masks for my family," she said.

Rodriguez wanted to do more, so on April 6 she reached out to Yesely Elizondo at @yeselyscreations to see if she had any fabric available to purchase.

"I told her how I wanted to buy supplies so they could be used to make masks that are given away for free," Rodriguez said. "Yesely Elizondo was so kind and generous and donated a bag full of fabric," she said. "I ended spending the whole night thinking about how there were no options for people in smaller communities to get free masks outside of the bigger cities, and I wanted to do something."

Rodriguez said she was aware of the need for someone in town to make the masks for those who could not travel out of town to get them.

"That's when I decided to start what I call my 'small project for small communities,'" she said. "I personally do not know how to sew, but that wasn't going to stop me. I have always been a person to help in any way I can.

Since she was 16, she has been a volunteer, rescuer, foster and adoption specialist for an animal rescue organization. "I reached out to find volunteers to sew masks while I supplied materials for them to do so."

Rodriguez went out and bought elastic, and within a few days found "some amazing women" who wanted to be a part of this and help sew.

She dropped off the supplies to Tammy Thullen and Patty Benavides, both of Shafter, and Mei Xi, Destiny Musick Griffeth and Mayela Guerrero, all of Bakersfield, and picked them up when the masks were completed.

"These women allow me to be able to keep my communities safer," Rodriguez said. "So far I have been able to distribute over 500 masks."

She has dropped off masks to the veterinarian's office in town,the Wasco Fire Department, the Shafter Fire Department, Hall Ambulance, the Shafter Police Department, the Wasco Sheriff's Department, the Wasco Prison, Wasco Omni Family Health, Wasco Walmart employees, the Wasco and Shafter Post Offices, as well any other adults and children who need masks.

"For first responders, I have also been able to supply over 100 mask ear relievers thanks to Aubri Anne Chacon," she said. "Also, Shelley Goodell, executive director for the Society of Disabled Children, was kind enough to donate several bags of fabric, which I am so incredibly grateful for."

This venture is self-funded by Valdivia, and she also accepts donations.

"I appreciate everyone who has donated to allow me to keep doing this," she said. "I would not be able to do this without all the support. I also would not be able to do this without my mom, Diana. I am the person that I am today thanks to her."


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