Oanh Loi-Powell has sewn over 700 masks that she has donated to UH Pediatrics, Cleveland Clinic Cardiology, the VA Hospital, several doctors' offices, urgent care centers in the Lake County area, Highland Pointe Rehab, nursing homes and hospices. They have gone out to many families, friends, neighbors.
Oanh does most of the work herself. Since early March she has been sewing, ironing, packaging, mailing and scouring the internet for resources and supplies.
Oanh Loi-Powell at her sewing machine
She says that lots of things are scarce or up-priced like elastics, solid color fabric, etc.
Her husband Michael has been a great help, cutting the fabric when he can, on the weekends. Her daughter Liana and her boyfriend cut the elastics, and go to the post office when they are
not studying or practicing their music, trying to finish out their last semester of college online.
Oanh says "When we left Vietnam, we had literally nothing to our name. No cash, no income, nothing of value to sell. My mother was a tailor/seamstress and taught sewing classes from our home in Vietnam. She somehow packed her pairs of heavy fabric shears out of Saigon, her tools of the trade. I still have them.
We were in the refugee camp for 3 months. My resourceful mother borrowed enough cash from the few friends she made in camp to buy a sewing machine (I am sewing on that machine now) to make clothes for the officers' wives. My job was to deliver the goods and collect the money, wandering all over the ground of the refugee camp (at 11 years old). That's how she was able to make some money in those few months - the start of our new life was from that money.
She continued sewing for friends while living in the US, teaching me the skills at the same time. Being a 1st generation Vietnamese refugee, using my skills to help in this strange time has a been very therapeutic. I sit and
think of all the memories, watching my mother sew late into the night - it makes me feel closer to her then ever.
She has received appreciative feedback from hospitals, medical workers and others such as this woman.
Great job Oanh!
Top of Page
Back to Personalities - Who's Doing What