MSgt Vielman displays one of the mask she hand sewed and donated to DLI for the international students.
Photo by MSgt Vielman
From DLIELC |
by Harlan Bender |
21 Jul 2020
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas —
When our AMIGO Program Manager, Dan Vega, sent out a notice to all AMIGO sponsors for help with providing masks for international students at DLI, he received several generous responses to help.
Master Sergeant Jeanett Vielman, an active duty military member at JBSA Lackland, stated her motivation to help with the homemade masks was, “my love and appreciation for DLI and its mission. I wanted to make something special for the students to show them how special they are and how happy I am to have them here in San Antonio.” She’s on duty 24/7, she makes time in the evenings after leaving work and continues to sew masks on the weekends. She stated, “I’m so happy I can do something for DLI students. Their journey here in San Antonio is affected at the moment due to this virus, but love and hospitality from us can have a positive impact.”
AMIGO Sponsor, Daisy Whisenant, saw the need and started searching various avenues. She found a group of craft ladies who donated one mask to low income schools for every one purchased. She decided to purchase $150 worth of masks for the first run since it was for an opportunity to assist our students. Now all the additional masks she’s provided are donated. Most are from a doctor’s wife, who likes to sew.
Whisenant said, “I miss our dinner party celebrations of the students’ birthdays and graduations immensely during this time of limitations on gatherings. They’re so far from home, and I want them to know we care and to know they have friends in the U.S. When Dan sent out a request for facemasks, I felt the masks would allow more opportunity for the DLI students to enjoy the company of others during this period.”
While there at DLI delivering masks on one of her two visits, she met some students and concluded, “I found it fun visiting with DLI students! I’m so happy to be of help to these precious guests from all over the world, to let them practice their English and enjoy American friendship.” One student arrived at the Operations Front Desk and began talking to Whisenant. Sergeant Jean Damascene Mutarambirwa from Rwanda, had received a mask on Monday.
Another AMIGO Sponsor, Alice Vida, who heard the call and stepped up to provide masks for the DLI students. She is a volunteer with a charity called Threads of Love. This group of volunteers make items for premature infants in intensive care.
After the sewing headquarters were closed to abide with the Stay at Home request, the sewers were asked to make cover masks for the nurses and doctors for the hospitals they supply with TOL items. Her church ladies decided to sew the masks at home.
Vide said, “We continue to do this but we are now sewing masks for policemen, firemen, and EMS. So we went from sewing masks with ties to sewing masks with elastic.
“I had fabric pieces that I washed and cut in rectangles. This is the fabric used for the 40 masks I made for DLI. I was happy to provide the masks for students to allow them to have mobility around the base. Since I had recent experience making masks, I knew I could make some masks while I was in place at home.”
Vida has connections with both NYC and DLI’s mission of teaching. Some of her background--she studied fashion design and worked in that field in NYC. She moved south, sewed in factories, earned two degrees, and became a secondary teacher for English, French, and History and retired after teaching 34 years. She said, “I learned to sew on my grandmother’s Singer treadle machine 65 years ago.”
DLI has received 160 homemade donated masks from AMIGO Sponsors. These volunteers are appreciated for their donations for those in need. What a tribute to the generosity of American citizens right here in San Antonio helping those students DLI has from throughout the world.