Businesses across the board have been hit hard during the coronavirus pandemic.
For barbers, hairstylists and others in the self-care industry, this experience has had a crippling impact, said James Carr Trice, a barber at Barber Boys Barber Shop on South Main Street in Madisonville.
Some of those impacted are finding ways to help and still earn a check.
Trice is a self-employed, independent contractor, and said he doesn’t pay into the unemployment tax.
“Therefore, unless federal and state government rallies behind us this week like they’re saying they’re going to, we’re not eligible for unemployment,” he said.
Trice said he started a delivery service for take-out and groceries, so he could provide for his wife and three kids who are under the age of 5.
“It’s a necessary service for those that can’t get out or are too high risk,” he said. “It started by just going down and hanging out at El Braceo’s with Pablo and them one night, and if anybody called in placing orders, they let them know, ‘Hey, there’s a guy here that will deliver if you’d like?’ So I started doing that, and then it just kind of snowballed from there.”
After delivering meals for a few days, Trice talked with a friend from church and talked about how they felt grocery delivery is necessary during this time.
“Especially for senior citizens that can’t get out. Clicklist and Wal-Mart pickup are great, but a lot of people with compromised immune systems don’t want to get out,” he said. “We set up a $10 idea. You can order online, do your grocery shopping. Pay for it online; they send me a picture of the order number and the time to pick it up and which store to pick it up. I go, give the name and pick it up. All I’m asking for is $10 per delivery, but you know, some people if they’re tighter, or they’re in dire need, I’m happy to do it for $5 or whatever they can spare. I’m not trying to price gouge, just trying to provide for me and mine.”
Tori Defatte, owner of Hadassah Hair Studio in Madisonville, said being responsible for her staff and missing them during this time started to affect her well being. So, she pursued one of her passions, sewing. Over the last week, Defatte has sewn together 60 masks for health care providers.
“I just started sewing,” she said. “I had so many people in the health care field that told me they’re getting like one mask a day. I know there is a shortage, and this is all I can do.”
About eight of Defatte’s friends are making masks too. She said they bounce ideas off of each other to problem-solve issues like finding adequate supplies.
“We’re trying to be creative, we can do ties, but it’s been super easy to sew elastic on,” she said. “We’re all just trying to get ideas from each other.”
Defatte said she is making these masks to help her community.
“We’re all God’s children, and we’ve got to take care of each other,” she said. “If we don’t take care of each other, then what do we have? I heard it yesterday, ‘We are all in the same storm, but we’re not all on the same boat.’ My boat is different. I’m home, I can stay home, I’m safe. I have a sewing machine; I have material. I may be on a submarine, whereas my health care worker friends are on a rowboat in the storm.”
After creating her masks, Defatte has retrofitted her old Messenger mailbox at her home into a pickup location, so no one has to make physical contact and practice safe social distancing, she said.
Currently, Baptist Health in Madisonville is keeping an eye on their supplies, said spokesperson Kristy Quinn. The hospital has cut its visitations down, partially in hopes to help with the number of masks they hand out to visitors.
“We are looking at ways we can maybe engage with the community for donations and things, but we have to make sure that we go through that process,” she said. “As far as homemade masks, we have to make sure that they’re made out of the right materials, and they meet infection control standards. We will put some information out about that on our social media pages once we have all those questions answered. But, it is very heartwarming to see the community trying to come to our aid.”
Quinn said local businesses, such as construction companies that have slowed down, have been willing to donate N-95 respirators and surgical masks for personal protective equipment that they aren’t using.
“I’m really confident that we’re going to be okay in this situation,” Quinn said. “Being a part of the hospital system, we have a lot more inventory. We can help each other, so that’s definitely an advantage for us too. Right now, we are okay. Everybody’s got what they need to take care of our patients.”
Trice can be reached at 270-871-5415. If you are in the health care profession, elderly or immune-compromised and would like a mask, you can send a Facebook message to Defatte.