Generosity floors Naperville tailor
Donated fabric results in 3,000 plus masks
By Steve Metsch
Preferring to focus on the positive, Monika Gawalek, who owns Tailoring By Monica in Naperville, talked about the masks she, family and friends are making for people to wear during the coronavirus pandemic.
Like so many businesses, church groups, civic organizations, sewing clubs and quilters, and others across this nation, Gawalek and her crew have been very busy, doing their part fight transmission of the coronavirus.
So far, they’ve made more than 3,000 masks – all of which have been given away – and plan to keep sewing them at least until May 30, the projected end of Gov. Prtizker’s shelter at home order.
Gawalek on Tuesday did not want to discuss a weekend news report on Channel 7 that said some masks and donations in a jar had been stolen from the foyer outside her business, 7 E. 7th Avenue, Naperville.
“They’re making a bigger story than it was,” Gawalek said. “I don’t want to focus on that situation. I don’t want to talk any more about that. We’re making the face masks for the people.”
Several times, she said she was grateful for the generosity of people, some total strangers, who are making this possible.
“I want to thank all the people who have donated the fabric, the elastic.” Gawalek said
Yards and yards of fabric has been donated to the effort, Gawalek said.
“One gentleman, he brings me so much fabric from his wife, enough for probably another 500 masks,” she said.
While she does most of the work herself, daughter Victoria Oginsk and Victoria’s boyfriend, Jayesh Chitnis have also been busy.
“It’s going well, Oginski said. “My mom has been doing most of the work.”
“We do what we can do,” Gawalek said.
Because she wanted to help, Gawalek began focusing on making masks when Gov. Pritzker’s shelter at home order began on March 21.
She needed about one week to gather all the fabric she needed, and has been making masks for about a month.
Because so many people are making masks these days, the elastic used to loop around ears and hold masks in place is hard to find, Gawalek said.
Told by suppliers that shipping will take longer – “you have to wait who knows how long,” she said – she decided to improvise and began using rubber bands instead of elastic.
“They work,” she said of the rubber bands.
Masks are left in a basket in the foyer outside her business, free for the taking by whomever is in need.
“They don’t have to touch anything. They don’t have to see me. They don’t have to inside the store,” she said.
She does accept donations in a jar, if people wish, but that is not required.
Gawalek, who opened her business in Naperville in 2011, remains impressed by the generosity and caring nature.
“I’m so proud of the people in Naperville and around here,” she said.