By Jensen, Randy on April 17, 2020.
When local esthetician Jessica Parmer closed her business, Beauty and the Brows, she started paying attention to the news and events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. After seeing the need for protective equipment for thousands of frontline workers across the province, she used her international connections to help gather facemasks for local organizations.
“There was an article that I saw that was saying there was a shortage of masks around the world, and that is when it struck my attention that essential workers don’t have protective equipment such as gloves or masks,” says Parmer. “Then I started reaching out to distributors that I know and ordered some masks to donate. I design my own eyelash line and through that I was able to get a hold of a bunch of distributors from around the world and was able to place my first order.”
When the idea first stuck her that she could help hundreds of local frontline workers, Parmer started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for larger orders, but was faced with criticism as many others have used the situation to scam money. Instead of hiding from the critics, she pooled her remaining funds and placed her first order of donations.
“I started a GoFundMe page when we first decided to donate to raise a little money, but I think the timing and circumstances weren’t right because people might think we were stealing money,” says Parmer. “But that is when I decided that whatever money I had I was going to donate and I was able to afford 1,500 masks and slowly started donating them with what I could. There are a few people now that have private messaged me and said they are going to throw $300 into the next order so that we are able to donate a bigger order to these organizations.”
The first organization to receive the donation from Parmer was Lethbridge Family Services whose workers continue to go into families’ homes for inspections and other work, putting themselves, clients and their families at risk with little or no protective equipment. The next donations that have been ordered are set to be given to the Lethbridge Homeless Shelter for their staff and clients.
“When I got a private message from someone who worked at Lethbridge Family Services and said they could use them for their over 180 members who are going home-to-home and they are at risk, my heart just went out to them and their clients have been messaging me because they are just overwhelmed and thankful because they had nothing to cover their faces with before,” says Parmer. “The next donation is arriving soon for homeless shelters and those are people that people don’t normally think about. They can’t go out and buy masks for $10 apiece, or some people have other issues, but especially the workers that are working with them and risking their lives.”
Although Parmer’s original initiative was pushed back by skeptics, she knew that by taking the chance to make the simple gesture to frontline workers, it would help them feel more comfortable and supported while risking their lives at work or on the street every day. Parmer says that she will continue to try and place orders for local organizations protective masks and hopes the community will help support the initiative with what they can, or give back to frontline workers with any form of support.
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