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Luna's Mary Duran helps with mask shortage

Although COVID-19 has forced most Luna Community College employees off campus, that hasn’t translated into a lot of down time for Mary Duran.

Duran, the administrative assistant to Vice President Kenneth Patterson, has devoted much of her spare time to hand-crafting protective facemasks for the community and beyond.
At the start of the week, she’d made more than 100 masks using scrap material and fabric, and she’d begun work on several large orders for home health care providers in both Las Vegas and Albuquerque and a local nursing home.

She’s made masks for workers at a Santa Fe nursing home as well.

Duran said she is not alone in stepping up to provide this community service – with masks and other personal protective equipment reported to be in short supply nationwide. “There are many other people from our community who are making them as well,” she said.

Luna Community College staff member Mary Duran uses her trusty sewing machine to create protective facemasks which she’s donated to health care workers and others as the fight against COVID-19 continues. … Duran displays a Betty Boop-themed facemask she created. Duran has been sewing and creating a variety of fabric works for the past four decades.

But she is undoubtedly one of the most prolific in her home-based operation. The masks have personality, too, featuring everything from Betty Boop to Harley Davidson to the New Mexico flag. One design has Psalm 91, which may be viewed as an especially appropriate biblical verse for the situation at hand.

Duran has been sewing since high school, when she took her first lessons, and her creative talents have continued to grow since then.

“My husband bought me my first sewing machine in 1981, and I still have it,” Duran said. “And that’s the machine I still use today. I really started to sew more in 1987, I think. I was inspired to make my kids little Halloween costumes and costumes for other events they were in.”

“My biggest creations are cooking aprons,” she said, “(but) I tell people that I can create anything they can imagine up.”

That has expanded to include pillows, Christmas stockings and other goods in addition to the aprons, and a shop in downtown Santa Fe displays and sells Duran’s creations to the public.

“Once the COVID-19 (started to spread), I told my daughter I should start making masks,” Duran recalled. “I got the idea from a friend who is a nurse and said her mom made her a mask for every day of the week. She posted a few videos of different ways to create a mask. I cut and sewed a few ‘til I mastered the one best for me. And so I began.”

The first set of five masks went to staff members of a local restaurant. The most recent are part of a large order requested by area health care providers.

The masks serve a valuable function in preventing the potential spread of COVID-19, in that they provide a layer of protection from the user’s exhalations. They also may help keep wearers from touching their own faces, thus decreasing the potential for introducing the virus to themselves.

“My goal is to help as many health care (workers and others) as I can with the simplest – a respirator mask,” Duran said. “It may not be perfect but it’s created with love.”