Pathfinder Spouses lend a helping hand during unprecedented times

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Eugene Oliver and Airman 1st Class Jennifer Zima
  • 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs

During the past few months, nations across the world have been faced with an unprecedented pandemic that has forced people to make changes to their lifestyles that they may not have previously anticipated. 

Multiple military spouses and volunteers throughout the 501st Combat Support Wing have been helping the effort to make sure everyone has the tools they need to prevent the spread of the pandemic by creating over 700 cloth face coverings and counting to support those in need.

As of 15 April 2020, there are nearly 2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world. Many nations have directed their citizens to stay at home and many have been advised to wear a cloth face covering in public areas where social distancing measures may not be possible.. The U.S. military, and the 501st Combat Support Wing, have joined with the efforts of its host nations and government to prevent the spread.

Because of this increased demand for face coverings, many have taken the initiative of creating home-made coverings to ensure medical-grade face masks remain available to doctors and nurses on the front lines of fighting the virus.

“I started making masks about 3 weeks ago just before we went into lockdown, all of the masks I have made have gone back into the community except for the ones I’ve made for my family,” said Kimberly Groder, 423d Force Support Squadron force development flight unit training manager at RAF Alconbury. “I started out taking my first batch to the Medical Clinic to see if they thought they would work, and did receive good feedback.  I was asked to make some child- sized ones since the commercial masks were just too big for little kids.”

During these trying times people like Groder go out of their way to make a positive impact on their community, showing how much they all care for the well-being of the Pathfinder family.

“A sense of community can be harder to come by here due to the base being so small,” said Kristina Garo, 422d Air Base Squadron school liaison officer at RAF Croughton. “But when there is a need, you never see a lack of people stepping up to do their best to assist, and that’s the same thing I’ve seen in this situation, but even stronger. 

I feel proud to be a part of this community with what I’ve seen coming from these women and their willingness to work so hard to support so many.”

Groder also added how the support and advice she’s received from members throughout the 501st Combat Support Wing has inspired her to continue, as well as how her current efforts have pushed others to follow her lead and help ensure everyone has access to a face covering.

“I liked the first pattern I saw and stuck with it for the first 225 masks. I have recently switched to a surgical style mask since they work up quicker and are much more universal in sizing,” said Groder. “There has also been another great push for community involvement by the amazing Carlina Lockley, from the 423d Medical Squadron, she is currently organizing a small army of people that want to iron, sew or just generally support the effort to get everyone covered.”

Efforts like these from the military spouses in the 501st CSW, and all of those that are putting in the extra time and effort to ensure that, all are staying safe during these times, truly show what it means to be a Pathfinder family.