COVID-19: Small Church Sews and Distributes 1,500 Masks for All


Jim Liberatore, rector of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, shares how his church of 250 has sewn and distributes over 1,500 masks for people in the Greater Houston area with Masks for All.

"I say a crisis is painful and we need to like acknowledge the pain and support each other in the pain. But it's also got hidden in a seed of a tremendous possibility partly because of our guard's down and we might let God do something, and partly because God is always doing something, but we might be able to see it better in a crisis."

Mentioned Resources:

St Andrew's Episcopal Church

Masks for All

Mosaic in Action

Houston Responds COVID-19 Resources


Transcript:

Tommy Rosson:

Hello, this is Tommy Rosson with Houston Responds. Today we're joined by Rector Jim Liberatore with the St Andrew's Episcopal Church. Jim, thank you for joining us.


Jim Liberatore:

Thank you.


Tommy Rosson:

Jim, tell us a little bit about your church.


Jim Liberatore:

Well, our church is small in number at about 250 on a Sunday. But it's mainly driven by service to the community. It's just part of our DNA. Every church has a different personality. That's the personality of our church serving the community. And we've done it with schools. We've done it with hunger. We've done it with hurricane rebuild, which is our latest, where we have brought about 270 people back into their homes after Hurricane Harvey. Doing everything from a complete rebuild to purchasing contents for the home.


Tommy Rosson:

I love that. I just love the math behind that. You have roughly 270 people on an average Sunday, and you've got roughly 270 people back in their home.


Jim Liberatore:

Right. It seems like it is an interesting combination of one for one.


Tommy Rosson:

Absolutely. Well with COVID-19 y'all have had another amazing impact. Tell me a little bit about your mask program


Jim Liberatore:

Well, our agape group is six women, which to me, the leverage of the sixes makes an incredible, that have turned out over 1500 masks now. But originally they started as a prayer group to make quilts for people who were in recovery from some illness or for homebound. And a couple of occasions they made some, especially for people who had had babies. We just delivered one for a new baby. When this started and it was evident that people needed masks, they just started making a mask. I had nothing, I had nothing to do with it. I take no credit for it. They just said, Hey, we need to do this. Well, they started making the masks and as they did, their family members would say, well, I'd like one too.


So they made a few more and then their family members was started talking to the Sheriff's department or a hospital and they're saying, well, you know, we can't get anything at all, so okay, will you make us some? And so they started making them over and over again. And Ben Taub's gotten them and doctors have gotten them all the local hospitals, a lot of emergency centers, some grocery store clerks have gotten them, Star of Hope Women's Shelter, all of the women and all the children got them. So they just went crazy. So this is six who's leveraged to 1500. It's almost like the loaves and the fishes almost.


Tommy Rosson:

Absolutely. You know, we have our Masks for All campaign in which our goal is to get a thousand churches committed to this and we're pretty sure that will add up to a million masks. I know a lot of people have gone, "really?" And I'm like, have you heard some of these stories of how three people, five people, 10 people are doing thousands of masks. That's amazing.


So you all began this about a month ago. And now you're transitioning into also being a part of, your food distribution. Tell me a little bit about the food distribution that y'all have ramped up in the last couple of weeks.


Jim Liberatore:

Well, we have a parallel nonprofit. We started three nonprofits out of the congregation. We have a parallel nonprofit called Mosaic in Action that's doing the storm recovery on the board of Mosaic and Action, was the current leader of Manville Community Outreach at Ruth. And so we contacted Ruth and said, look, there are so many people that need food cause they come by the church. Could we arrange to have a food drop here? And so Ruth talked to the Houston Food Bank. And, lo and behold, a week later we wound up with a food drop here. And part of that is, you know, getting to know your community. You get to know all of these people that know other people and it makes it terrific. So we set up it and we got some Pearland Police to help us with it cause we're right on 518. And to help us with the logistics of it. Then we put out a call for volunteers and as usual, we had to turn volunteers away and the volunteers come from many churches and not just from our church.


Tommy Rosson:

Yeah. That's one of the great things about how you lead and how it's part of your church's DNA to serve that, you know, whether it's this mass program and that more churches are coming to you saying, how do we do this? To the food distribution point. I know y'all have partnered with Crosspoint and other churches in your community. I love how you're not just leading for just to love your community, but also for your church. But also it's for the greater community of Pearland.


Jim Liberatore:

Right. In this last fall, the Pearland Chamber of Commerce named us the member of the year, which they've never done for a church before.


Tommy Rosson: