Rosie Portual-Brastad is used to coming to the aid of Apache Junction Unified School District families.
She heads Project Help, a program that is exclusive to AJUSD and provides families in need with help with financial assistance, food, new and gently-used clothing, and other items that are donated by corporations, churches and individuals.
But sometimes the helpers need assistance.
When Ms. Portual-Brastad heard about the face-mask shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she reached out to Banner Goldfield Medical Center, 2050 W. Southern Ave. in Apache Junction, to see if the healthcare workers and support staff could use homemade, cloth face-mask covers to prolong the life of the N95 face masks that are currently in short supply.
Her contact said they did need help and she sat down behind her Bernia sewing machine and immediately went to work creating the colorful and washable items. She also received assistance from the Desert Harbor Community and local quilters, all from Apache Junction. Together they have made 381 masks.
Below is one of many links to show how to create these helpful items.
“Banner Goldfield has been very supportive of Project Help and it seemed only right that I should reach out and offer my help to protect these brave and hard-working healthcare workers,” Ms. Portual-Brastad said. “I believe what goes around, comes around.”
But it didn’t stop there.
After watching a YouTube Video about making face shields, her son, Bjorn Portugal Brastad, 37, decided to help as well. Fortunately he had the materials and a 3D printer so he was able to get to work right away. He created two prototypes for Banner Goldfield to choose from. They selected the shield that provided the most protection, and to date, he has created 40 shields.
It has taken him a little over 100 hours to create the face shields, but it has been time well spent. The Apache Junction resident admits the current situation is scary, but said you can either live in fear or decide to do something positive to make a difference.
“I was really inspired by the man in the video,” said Bjorn. “He saw a need and decided to do something about it. After I watched the video I thought, “I can do that. Not everyone has a 3D printer, but I do, and I can help.”
Students and staff at AJUSD are finding different ways to help their community. Whether it consists of sewing mask covering or constructing face shields, creating chalk art on neighborhood sidewalks with inspiring messages, or shopping for an elderly neighbor, there are a variety of ways to assist others.
For those who want to make a donation or learn more about Project Help, go to www.ajusd.org. The facility is currently closed due to COVID-19, but donations can be mailed to Project Help, 195 E. Superstition Blvd, Apache Junction, AZ 85119.
Editor's note: Sally Marks is AJUSD's public relations specialist.