Three local women contribute to success of just-concluded GAIA capital campaign

by Linda Hubbard on June 9, 2020

Trinity Church in Menlo Park has long supported the Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance (GAIA) and three parishioners were key to the success of a just completed 30-day capital campaign that raised more than $507,000 with more than 25% of the pledges coming from Peninsula donors. The funds will be used  to purchase vital COVID-19 prevention supplies for the Sub-Saharan African country, Malawi.

Trinity parishioners Laurie Hunter and Lisa Deal are members of GAIA’s U.S Board of Trustees, and fellow parishioner Kathy Engelman heard that donors who pledged above a certain level were being sent colorful, handmade masks. “I’ve been attending Trinity for close to 30 years,” said Kathy. “While I work full time, I figured I could do a bit of sewing at night, helping making masks for donors.”

Kathy estimates she’s made 45 to 50 masks, giving away a few to friends. “Sewing is fun for me,” says the Menlo Park resident. “I guess I’m kind of crafty. But it does take a bit of time.

“It requires measuring, cutting, and ironing the fabric. I’ve added garden wire so that it fits better on the nose and used garden fleece to cushion the wire, making improvements along the way. The ‘bird mask’ [pictured above] is my favorite.”

Other Trinity parishioners that contributed sewing masks include Shirley Hagey, Margie Stehle, Sally Mancini and her daughter Antonia and Carol Park.

Immediately following the first reported case of COVID in Malawi, GAIA developed an action plan to deliver supplies to protect and educate the Malawian villages they serve. GAIA’s goal was to raise funds to enable healthcare workers to purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), educate local villagers on the health benefits of social distancing, and deliver soap and water buckets and locally-tailored face masks, to the more than 10,000 households including the elderly.

“Because of the generosity of Peninsula donors, we were able to mobilize quickly and purchase PPE for our healthcare workers and run PSAs over loudspeakers on our mobile healthcare units,” GAIA Executive Director  Todd Schafer explained. “Once we secured the funds, our team in Malawi sprang into action and obtained plastic shields, face masks and medical gowns. We have raised enough to provide our frontline workers with a six-month supply, and the first 2,000 families have already received their hand washing supplies and facemasks!”

“Our Peninsula donors have been more than generous,” said Laurie. “They have looked beyond their own communities and taken a more global perspective to help others. I am truly inspired.”

Founded in 2000, GAIA is a secular nonprofit that delivers innovative healthcare programs in resource-deprived regions in Africa, especially for those most affected by HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.

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