Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, stories of people doing great things for and within the Veterans Homes of California have boosted the morale of the veterans and residents, and of the staff members who care from them.

Some have volunteered their time, skills, and materials to make protective equipment. Professional athletes have offered video pep talks. Veterans have done things to show their appreciation for staff.

Each story of kindness, it seems, comes with a backstory. For that person to do something good, someone else stepped up to help make it happen.

Becky Chiurco, a longtime dedicated
employee of the home.

Such is the case at the Veterans Home of California-Yountville, where Anastacia Chiurco has made over 300 protective masks for staff members. Her sister, Becky Chiurco, is a longtime employee at the home. When Anastacia learned staff here could use additional protective masks, she got out one of her sewing machines and went to work.

Anastacia owns several sewing machines, including one made in 1942. But they weren’t tuned up,” she said. “When this started, I wasn’t ready for mass production.”

In fact, only one of hers was in operating condition, and it faltered early in the process. She took it to a sewing machine and vacuum repair shop in Napa. The shop has a high backlog because there are many others like her who want to sew masks, but their machines need work. The manager told Anastacia hers would take a couple of weeks before it was ready. She asked him about renting one to maintain production.

Anastacia Chiurco could make masks, if her sewing machine was running properly.

“He said they rent them for $35 a day,” she said. “I was going to need it for two weeks at a minimum.” When she told him why she needed the rental – that she was making masks for the staff at the Veterans Home – he dropped the price dramatically. “He gave it to me for $25 for the entire time (not per day) and told me to keep making masks for as long as I needed it, until mine is ready,” she said.

The repair shop manager is by no means the only one in her support system. When she quickly went through all of her spare material, along with elastic for the ear bands, members of the local community center offered fabric including bed sheets. They also provided whatever elastic materials they could, as she awaited delivery of an online order. When it arrived Monday, she returned to the community center folks what she no longer needed from their supply.

Grateful residents at the home.

“I can make about 60 masks in a day-and-a-half,” she said. The first batch went to the Veterans Home on Easter Sunday in what has become a socially distanced practice and routine. She leaves them in a box on her doorstep. A Yountville staff member picks them up and takes them to work. “Everyone is out there, on top of it, and doing their part,” Anastacia said.

They are collectively stepping up to help keep safe the people who keep the veterans and residents safe.

That is a good deed, indeed.

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