Willamette faculty, staff produce hundreds of face coverings for community

by Jennifer Johnson,

  • Professor of Theatre Bobby Brewer-Wallin wears a fabric mask he created. Several faculty and staff hand-made face masks for students who remain on campus.
    Professor of Theatre Bobby Brewer-Wallin wears a fabric mask he created. Several faculty and staff hand-made face masks for students who remain on campus.
  • Assistant Professor of Physics Daniel Borrero wears one of many face shields he made for health care workers.
    Assistant Professor of Physics Daniel Borrero wears one of many face shields he made for health care workers.
  • Face masks Brewer-Wallin created.
    Face masks Brewer-Wallin created.
  • Face masks Brewer-Wallin created.
    Face masks Brewer-Wallin created.
  • Face masks Brewer-Wallin created.
    Face masks Brewer-Wallin created.
  • Face masks Brewer-Wallin created.
    Face masks Brewer-Wallin created.

As the pandemic continues to deplete the supply of face masks and personal protective equipment everywhere, Willamette University faculty have responded to the call. 

Professor of Theatre Bobby Brewer-Wallin and others — Professor of Art Alexandra Opie, Associate Professor of Chemistry Alison Fisher, Professor of Art History and Archaeology Ann Nicgorski, Administrative Specialist Honey Wilson, Professor of Environmental Science Karen Arabas and Access Services Librarian Charity Braceros-Simon — have together distributed about 200 hand-made face masks to students who still live on campus. 

After a request from Opie, Brewer-Wallin began making masks after classes moved online in March. He raided the costume studio’s supply of scrap cotton fabrics, resulting in a colorful array of choices, and delivered supplies to those who didn’t have fabric but wanted to sew. Students picked up the masks at Goudy Commons cafeteria along with with their bagged meals, at the Bearcat Pantry and from campus housing through Kourtney Prairie ’20. 

By spring break, Brewer-Wallin committed to making a dozen masks a day for students, friends and family members. 

“This felt like a great way to serve the community and put my skills to good use,” he said. 

He’s since extended his outreach to a Willamette alum whose family members had COVID-19 and plans to make them as long as necessary. After Willamette student needs are met, he’ll shift his attention to others in the community, he said. 

Assistant Professor of Physics Daniel Borrero recently donated 45 face shields — created at home with his lab's 3D printer — to Oregon Oncology Specialists in Salem after a tip from visiting chemistry professor Scott Meyer

Borrero used a design he found online that has been tested and approved by the National Institutes of Health. During his search, he also discovered MatterHackers, a 3D printing supply company, that called out anyone with a 3D printer to create PPE. 

Borrero has since been contributing to the campaign, which has distributed so far more than 35,600 pieces of PPE to 135 hospitals nationwide. 

“Beating this thing is really going to take an effort by everyone,” he said. “I’m going to do whatever I can to help.” 

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