Immunocompromised mother produces face masks in honor of late grandmother

Posted at 9:31 PM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 23:20:34-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. -- For three and a half weeks, Stefanie Fedorchenko's sewing machine has run non-stop producing hand-sewn face masks for friends, family, neighbors and medical workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

She produced a total of 500 face masks as of Monday. Each mask, however, is made in honor of her late grandmother, who passed away in 2019.

"She was always just kind and caring and generous to everybody in the community," Fedorchenko told News 3.

That is because Fedorchenko said her grandmother was a nurse who helped treat people, just like medical workers are now doing in the midst of the pandemic.

"I figured this was the next best thing," she said. "If I couldn't become a nurse right now and follow in her steps, then the least I could do was take care of the community."

Fedorchenko made face masks and handed those out while risking her own health. That is because she is immunocompromised - meaning she is someone who has a weakened immune system and may have a harder time fighting illnesses and disease.

She said she always wears a mask when going out and handing out the masks, and so do those receiving the masks. Regardless of the immunodeficiency, she said she is not scared or worried.

"It was more a feeling of joy because I was actually able to do something, no matter how small - it was to help them," Fedorchenko said.

Her workshop recently was right out of Portsmouth Naval Hospital. That was because her son was hospitalized, but not for COVID-19.

Her son checked out of the hospital on Monday, but during that time the hospital staff let her bring her sewing machine to continue working.

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"They were willing to accommodate what I needed so that I could help them while they were taking care of my son," she said.

Fedorchenko said she had materials to make the masks and also received small donations to purchase items in order to make more masks. Organizations such as the local SMART union and a local COVID-19-care organization.

Her children also helped in producing the masks. As to when she will make masks, Fedorchenko said she will continue to produce them until the pandemic is over.

"We're still a community and we need to support each other during this because it's the only way we're going to get through," Fedorchenko said.

If you would like to inquire about a mask, check out Federchenko's work or help out by producing masks or donating needed materials, you can visit -- and reach out -- on her "Masks For Change" Facebook page and Instagram page.

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