For Abby Beyjoun, owner of Abby's Sew Right Boutique in Hewitt, spring is typically the busiest season for her business. She is usually helping her customers find the "perfect dress" for proms, semi-formals, weddings and other special occasions as well as doing alterations to ensure their special outfits fit them perfectly.
This year, the Coronavirus Pandemic halted Beyjoun's business. Proms and dances were cancelled. Weddings were postponed.
But Beyjoun didn’t shutter her doors. Instead, she found another purpose for her design and sewing talents. And requests for her specialty pieces have not stopped since.
Beyjoun heard from friends in the medical field that there was a shortage of personal protective equipment to keep them safe from contracting the COVID-19 virus while they were treating patients and serving their community.
'Be part of the solution'
Beyjoun researched the materials requirements, and began sewing masks and surgical caps/head covers, using materials she had on hand, to donate to the hospital workers and emergency responders she knew.
Beyjoun said she wanted "to be a part of the solution to a hard time in my state.
"I’m not a nurse or a doctor,” she added, “but I can use the gift that the Lord gave and blessed me with to bless others and make a difference. It is my weapon."
She then reached out to local hospital administrators, nursing care facilities and local emergency responders to offer to donate her masks and caps for their staff.
Soon, she was receiving requests for donations from medical facilities and other frontline and "essential workers" from all around the tri-state area.
6,000 masks - and counting
As of May 19, Beyjoun has personally made and donated nearly 6,000 masks and 1,300 surgical caps. She has distributed them to most area hospitals, senior citizen care facilities, medical staff at the COVID-19 testing site at William Paterson University, emergency responders, working staff at area schools, private doctor's offices, local animal care facilities, grocery store workers and more.
Overall, Beyjoun has provided this safety equipment to more than 200 facilities across areas of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania and to more than 80 individuals requesting smaller amounts for themselves and their coworkers.
Beyjoun said it is hard to describe how she feels about doing this: "I felt the emotions from the stories I got from people that requested donations, and I thought of them as I made every mask or head cover. It's been very emotional. It was the drive that made me reach over 150 masks on some days and work all day non stop!"
Receiving phone calls, notes and letters, and posts on Facebook from grateful recipients about how her donations have helped them, warms her heart. "I loved every one of those stories", she said.
Beyjoun is humble and genuine. Posts by others on her personal and business Facebook pages describe her as: "wonderful & generous", "special & caring" and "kind hearted."
And although she was not very comfortable being thrust into the "spotlight" for this article, true to form - during her interview with The Messenger, Beyjoun requested to express her gratitude to those who have helped her with this project.
"I am very proud of the difference I made, and very grateful to all the people that helped me - from donating, to delivering, to cutting patterns, and also making some masks and dropping them off to help me fill orders faster," she said. "Without all of you this would have been much harder to do! Love you all and God bless you.
"These are the times that we need to put our hands together to be stronger, we are all in this together, everyone chip in their help and we will conquer and defeat anything," she added.
Help Abby Beyjoun continue her mission
Beyjoun has long since exhausted her store's supplies, as well as materials that were generously donated by members of the community.
In an effort to raise money for materials needed for the donations, Beyjoun began offering her masks for sale to the general public for a mere $5. "I’m not in it for the income, I’m in it for the outcome!"
Since then, Beyjoun has personally purchased additional supplies in order to meet the continuing need of the community, and the additional requests for donations still coming from hospitals, nursing homes, first responders, and other essential workers.
Knowing the hard work Beyjoun is putting into her charitable efforts, the tremendous personal expenses she has incurred as a result, (in addition to her business being temporarily closed due to state quarantine restrictions), friends created a "Go Fund Me" page for her - to help pay for the cost of materials for the donations. Although hesitant at first, Beyjoun admitted, "I could use help to pay for the supplies I purchased for the donations."
The Go Fund Me page is titled, "Supplies for frontline workers" https://www.gofundme.com/f/supplies-for-frontline-workers.
Thus far, $485 of the $2,000 posted goal has been raised for the project. As the need for masks continues, so will the need for donations to pay for the materials to make them.
In a Facebook Post on her business page, Beyjoun wrote: "I know it’s a hard time for everyone, every dollar helps. I’m still getting tons of calls, messages and emails for masks and head covers! I will not stop making them until this is over and there is no need anymore. Thank you for supporting my mission!"
You can help
If you would like to help Abby Beyjoun of Abby's Sew Right continue her mission to provide free masks to frontline workers as needed, and help her "make a difference during these terrible times," visit her Go Fund Me page to make a donation, and share the page with others who may be able to help.
For any questions, Abby Beyjoun can be reached at: Abby's Sew Right, 1925 Greenwood Lake Turnpike, Hewitt, NJ 07421