In times of crisis, the strongest communities come together to ensure the well-being of their most vulnerable members, and one place where that outpouring of love and support can be witnessed crystal clear is on the Sag Harbor Helpers Facebook page. Started by Cindy Ward Capalbo, owner of C’s Home Management, as Sag Harbor Elders on March 13, the recently renamed group has more than 200 members dedicated to helping elder people in their time of need by running errands, helping them meet their healthcare needs and staving off the loneliness that often comes with quarantines and social distancing. With 90% of her cleaning business on hold, Ward Capalbo shifted her focus to protecting those most at-risk during the COVID-19 pandemic—the elderly. “My heart broke thinking they would be stuck in their houses with no food,” she says. Soon after she created the Sag Harbor Helpers page, Nancy Nano of Nancy’s Tailoring & Alterations in Sag Harbor, offered her services to the cause, volunteering to transform her shop into a medical mask–making operation. “I felt that I could contribute with what I do, so I can help people who need it,” Nano says.
Nano, Eloisa Criollo and Jeanne Stedman started creating masks on Monday, March 20, and in two short weeks they’d already manufactured 400–600 masks, which have been donated to several East End organizations including Sag Harbor Elementary School, Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance, East End Pediatrics in East Hampton, the Suffolk County Police Department’s Communications Bureau and, of course, Sag Harbor Helpers, as well as individuals in need of a mask. With Nancy’s Tailoring deemed a non-essential business, Nano and her team have devoted their time to creating these masks and are taking every precaution to ensure a sanitary workplace—disinfecting it constantly and keeping the team limited to three people, who each work in a separate space and wear gloves and a mask.
“If I can keep a steady supply of materials coming in, I am willing to continue contributing, as long as I have the energy and it remains possible to keep producing masks, because together we will help fight this crisis,” Nano says. The Sag Harbor and greater East End communities can help Nano continue her lifesaving work by donating the materials necessary to make the masks—cotton fabric, lightweight fusible interfacing and 1/4” elastic. She has already received donations from Pepe Home Corporation, Bermuda Parties, Adam Baranello, Vivian Friscas, Marina Koulomzin, Sandy Kruel, Robin Piro, Denisse O’Malley, Hellen Heller and other generous individuals and businesses. Nano adds, “I thank all East End business owners who are contributing in these difficult times we are experiencing for dedicating their time and effort.”
Nano, Criollo, Stedman, Ward Capalbo and the Sag Harbor Helpers are making a real difference on the East End, and local elders have expressed deep gratitude for not being overlooked during this turbulent time. “They are very grateful which leaves all of us with a happy heart,” Nano notes. “The most rewarding thing for me right now is knowing that all the effort I am putting in is helping many people to protect themselves with the masks that I am producing. Knowing that I can help people makes me feel very satisfied, because I do it with all my heart.”
Visit facebook.com/nancytailoring or call 631-903-9731 for more information on donating mask materials, and visit facebook.com/groups/888433398244024 to join the Sag Harbor Helpers and offer your services to East End elders.