GLASGOW, Ky. – A mask has become a part of the wardrobe as much as a shirt. But many continue to lack the means to obtain a mask or face covering.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has urged Kentuckians to don masks while around others to limit the transmission of the novel coronavirus.
Mandy Goessling, the founder of Shelter Barren County, says the elderly and those experiencing homelessness are the most vunerable during this time. Yet, so many in those populations are left without a mask or face covering because they cannot access or pay for one.
“You know, $5 doesn’t seem like much for one mask, but when you have a family of six or more, then that adds up pretty quickly,” Goessling says. “That cuts into your like food budget –especially now – when folks are waiting on checks and stuff like that.”
Kentucky’s unemployment rate rose to 15.4 percent during April, which means several people continue to battle the pandemic without sources of income. The pandemic has crashed stock trading and crippled the economy, and Goessling says people often experience homelessness in times like these.
“This is exactly the kind of thing that people are one or two paychecks away from being homeless, and I mean this is it,” Goessling says. “People haven’t received checks. I don’t know when they’ll lift restrictions on evictions, but they’re still going to own that money.”
Those experiencing homelessness are often vulnerable and most susceptible to COVID-19, according to the Center for Disease Controls.
“Because many people who are homeless are older adults or have underlying medical conditions, they may also be at higher risk for severe disease than the general population,” according to the CDC.
Several volunteers have come together to provide masks to those in the area. But materials are still needed to create those masks.
Goessling says several components make up the masks the group is making. Materials needed for the masks include fabric, thread, elastic and filters. Several people are working to stitch masks, but Goessling says volunteers are appreciated.
“If you don’t have fabrics or elastic and you’d like to help, monetary donations do help,” Goessling says.
Goessling says the group is working to get masks to anyone in need. Whether someone has a health issue or cannot afford a mask, the goal is to get them a mask.
“It’s not limited to the vulnerable community,” Goessling says. “But that’s where we would like to put them out first.”
To make a donation or obtain further information, you may call Goessling at (270) 267-9769. She can also be reached on Facebook Messenger.