Kamloops woman recognized for leading effort to make 14K COVID masks | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops woman recognized for leading effort to make 14K COVID masks

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Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Deanna Bell

A Kamloops women, who initiated the creation and distribution of over 14,000 COVID masks to frontline workers, was recognized with an award from the City of Kamloops last week.

Tamara Macpherson Vukusic formed Sew the Curve Kamloops, a volunteer group made up of seamsters, in response to the pandemic last year.

Each year city council formally acknowledges individuals who have dedicated their time and service to the city. Vukusic received her Exemplary Service Award at an invitation-only ceremony, but said she gives credit to everyone who helped.

READ MORE: Sew the Curve makes masks and more for Kamloops front-line workers

“Being involved with Sew the Curve Kamloops I was gobsmacked every single day by those who gave to our community,” Vukusic said. “The team of more than 300 seamsters included single moms, seniors on pensions and dozens of people living in low-income housing.”

Vukusic said the size of the volunteer team included more than 1,400 members who sorted, delivered masks, donated supplies and made phone calls. She said together the group donated over 10,000 hours of time and approximately $50,000 in materials in their quest to support frontline workers, community service groups and vulnerable individuals in Kamloops and the surrounding area.

“Dozens of seniors living alone sacrificed pillow cases and sheets to make scrub bags,” Vukusic said. “One volunteer took her sewing machine with her to Vancouver to sew during cancer treatments. We got calls from other groups as far away as North Vancouver and New York City asking for our secret sauce.”

Tamara Macpherson Vukusic received an award from the City of Kamloops for her service to her community.
Tamara Macpherson Vukusic received an award from the City of Kamloops for her service to her community.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Tamara Macpherson Vukusic
 

Vukusic said the group sewed 14,104 masks, 1,343 scrub caps, 1,225 scrub bags, 718 headbands with buttons for masks and 1,400 ear savers. 

“It turns out the secret sauce is Kamloopsians,” she said. “The people here care about each other in a way I’ve never experienced before. I see a new generation of volunteers rising in the wake of COVID. The hundreds of young people who helped their parents and grandparents make masks.”

READ MORE: Volunteers who supported Syrian refugees reconnecting to help Afghan newcomers

Sew the Curve operated from March to late fall of 2020 when inexpensive masks were made available. The group was made up of members from around the Interior, including Merritt, Chase and Kelowna.

In a social media post made by the City of Kamloops, Vukusik was also recognized for volunteering time to support several reading programs, organizing Word Walk as part of the Unplug and Play program, and creating the Spark! app and the Spark Story Starters cards.

Tamara Macpherson Vukusic was recognized by the City of Kamloops for her service to her community.
Tamara Macpherson Vukusic was recognized by the City of Kamloops for her service to her community.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Tamara Macpherson Vukusic

"In 2003, Tamara MacPherson Vukusic became a wonderful addition to our community," the City said in the post. "In the almost two decades since she arrived in Kamloops with her family, Tamara has volunteered and inspired community giving in many ways." 

Vukusic said she is always open for more volunteering opportunities.

“I didn’t grow up in a home where volunteering was a part of life,” she said. “My mom was single with five kids and held down two minimum wage jobs. So I fully understand how fortunate I am to be able to volunteer.”


To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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