TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — When people in the Travis AFB community needed face masks, Jenn Taylor had them covered.
Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic while simultaneously caring for her three kids during her husband’s yearlong deployment, Jenn sewed more than 325 face masks in April for service members in the Bay Area.
It was never her goal to make so many. Inspired by a post she saw on Facebook in early April, Jenn bolted into action with the goal of making 100.
Initially, her aim was to help health care professionals at the base’s David Grant USAF Medical Center. But she quickly found demand outstripped supply, especially after the Department of Defense directed the wear of face coverings April 3.
One of Jenn’s first sizable requests came from Tech. Sgt. Ryan Padgett, a 22nd Airlift Squadron unit technician, who asked for nine masks within 48 hours before his unit went on a mission to Germany.
And then, Padgett asked for three more.
“At the time, it felt very daunting,” she said.
Days later, when Padgett and his fellow Airmen were in Germany, where masks were required, he sent Jenn a group photo of everyone donning her face coverings.
“Oh gosh, it makes me cry,” she said. “I felt helpful. I felt proud to be doing something I thought was so small but was actually pretty impactful.
“It was really incredible to see that 12 people were getting use out of them and being protected. It was a beautiful thing.”
Padgett said Jenn’s masks saved the crew and the mission.
“She was a godsend,” Padgett said. “It made a huge impact for us, and it’s special that it came from a military spouse.”
As demand has grown, Jenn said neighbors pitched in to help cut, iron and pin material, but the sewing has been all on her.
While she’s bought material, Jenn also said she’s using a lot of old uniforms.
“I’m taking requests,” she said. “Do they wear OCPs or a flight suit? I try to get something cohesive for them.”
Jenn’s spouse, Tech. Sgt. Adam Taylor, is deployed as an aerial porter with the 728th Air Mobility Squadron at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.
The stay-at-home order has complicated what was already a challenging practical and emotional year for Jenn. Making masks has allowed her to focus her energy on something productive instead of dwelling on a global pandemic with a taxing mental toll.
“It’s taken up a large portion of my brain,” she said. “It’s given me a purpose and something to focus my mind on. It’s hard not knowing because of what’s going on.
“The unknowing of it doesn’t help, but making the masks does.”
As word of her work spread, Jenn said she’s worked with the Airman and Family Readiness Center and dorm managers at Travis AFB to distribute masks. She’s also working with the USO to distribute masks to service members throughout the Bay Area.
“I’m just a lady with a sewing machine and some time on her hands,” she said. “I don’t know how to say (this) without sounding conceited — I feel as though I’m being helpful, and that’s great. If everybody can do something that’s a little bit helpful and we work together, we can make it through together.”
Jenn said members of the Travis AFB community who need a mask can contact her via Facebook.