Seems these days, everybody needs a mask. As the COIVD-19 pandemic continues to affect communities around the country, most citizens are practicing the recommendations set in place to help curb the spread of the virus. The result has been an overwhelming need for protective equipment for our first responders and those who are on the front line. While industries and businesses work to provide these essential needs, consumers haven’t been let down either.
Berthena Segres Conyers didn’t know it at the time, but all of the fabric and much sought-after elastic she’s been holding on to for years would serve an extraordinary purpose.
Conyers read an article that inspired her to do something for her family. She decided to sew masks for family and friends and has since sewn over 950 masks. But she’s not selling them. “That wasn’t my mission,” said the Greeleyville retiree. “My mission is to give them out. During this time people need to be safe and I wanted to help and do something for the community.”
Conyers hands them out to family and friends, when she goes to the grocery store and to her church members. “God has blessed me so. If I can get out, I hand them out.”
Pastor Rev. Reginald Segres, Sr. of Mt. Zion Apostolic Faith Church in Kingstree considers Conyers a blessing to the community. “I thank God for Sister Conyers,” he said. “I consider it a blessing from the Lord to put in her spirit to use one of her many talents to create masks for individuals in the community and surrounding areas. Not only did she do it for her community, family, and church members but any individual in need for no charge in a time such as this. Sister Conyers has demonstrated the same compassion that Christ has given to us. We thank God for her and for her husband, Brother McKeever Conyers allowing her to do such a great work.”
Much of the fabric Conyers uses to create the masks was purchased for nearly nothing or given to her. However, years ago a fabric store was going out of business and she was handed a load of sewing related materials, including elastic string, the type currently being used to make masks and very hard to come by. The items were free but she still gave a sizable donation to the owner.
For years the fabric, patterns, and other items lay hidden away in a shop in the back yard. Her husband of 45 year encouraged her to give the lot away but she always felt in her heart that one day she would find a way to use them. “I believe God gave me those materials and let me hold it all of these years for this reason,” she said. “That’s why I have it now because I would have probably given it away or threw it away.”
After the first few hundred masks were made, Conyers found herself in a quandary. Retired and living on a strict income, she realized she couldn’t mail the dozens of masks that have been promised. But the community and family came through with donations to help with the mailing costs. Conyers says her cutoff for making the masks is 1,000. “I told my husband I would stop at that point,” she said. “Unless there’s still a need.”