Making masks a mother-daughter mission for Catholic Charities employees

The bond between mothers and daughters can be as strong as cement, unbreakable and lasting. That’s true of Cynthia and Suzanne Mansour. They live together, work together – and now, spend their spare time protecting people during the ongoing pandemic by making masks together.

Both work at Catholic Charities – Cynthia in Lawrenceville as an administrative assistance in Compliance and Suzy in Trenton as a staff accountant in Finance. (Their devotion to Catholic Charities is a family affair – Cynthia’s father Gary also volunteers every year doing free tax preparation for people in need. Photo, left, shows Suzy, Cynthia and Gary.)

Meeting a need

When COVID-19 first began spreading last spring, the mother-daughter duo decided to try their hand at making masks, which were scarce in the pandemic’s early days.

“We started making them when the pandemic started and masks became required to go anywhere,” Suzy said. “I actually had never sewed before, let alone used a sewing machine. Neither had my mom. But I dug out my grandma’s machine and taught myself with YouTube videos.” 

They never quit.

“We tried a couple patterns and ended up with one that has three folds,” Cynthia said. They tweaked their design to use soft, stretchy cloth headbands to go around a wearer’s ears instead of elastic, which they found scratchy and uncomfortable, she added.

They haven’t kept count of how many masks they’ve made, but guess it’s been over 100. They recently began making child-sized masks, driven by concern for children heading back to school.

“We have taken over my parents’ dining room,” Cynthia said of their sewing space.

Suzy added: “It’s become very fun to do, and a pleasure to be able to donate them to those who need them. We both carry them with us now in case we see someone who needs one.”

They have given most away free to friends, family and Catholic Charities staff. They’ve also given them to Target employees, gas station attendants and everyone in between. They’ve mailed some as far as New Orleans.

Masks for a good cause

Recently, they decided to sell them for $5 each – and donate all proceeds to causes they care about, including Black Lives Matter, the LGBTQ community and COVID relief.

“We have a lot of fun when we do it,” Cynthia said. “Sometimes I get ahead, sometimes Suzy does, and we help motivate each other.”

Such compassion isn’t surprising, says Marlene Laó-Collins, Catholic Charities’ executive director.

“Every time I’ve encountered Cynthia and Suzanne – a mother and daughter dynamic duo! – they are uplifting and positive, willing to lend a helping hand, or share a kind word,” Laó-Collins said. “Their mask-making project is not just a good deed, but an example of selflessness, caring and compassion. Truly inspiring! Although they quietly do this, without seeking attention or fanfare, it’s impossible to ignore this goodwill and not express our gratitude for their kindness. We are so proud of Cynthia and Suzanne and appreciate their generosity!”

To support the cause

If you would like a mask from the Mansours, email Suzy at [email protected].

Subscribe for more news

For more information, contact Dana DiFilippo, Catholic Charities communications, at [email protected] or (215) 756-6277 (cell).

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