SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – Friends of a Los Altos woman say she is so generous, it’s as if she only has one organ: her heart.
Marian Aiken had never sewn a mask until friends needed coronavirus protection.
“Then one of my sons, his hospice worker, came and said he couldn’t find masks, and from that point on, people just kept asking for more and more masks,” said Aiken.
The former teacher, who is deaf, organized several women from her church, Los Altos United Methodist.
Since sheltering in place in the Spring, they’ve sewn 2,000 masks.
They have sent the masks for free to whoever asks, from nurses to farmworkers, and even the Navajo Nation, in New Mexico.
Aiken and a friend made almost 100 masks so each participant of Morgan Autism Center could have two.
Adult Program Director Sue Taylor says the designs made participants want to wear them.
“We were blown away how beautiful they were,” Taylor said. “She knew that having a lining that was soft would be easier for our guys to wear.”
Aiken, who reads lips, even made masks with a clear covering using transparency film so the deaf and developmentally-challenged wearers can see a person’s facial expressions.
Volunteer Non Mead says Aiken is always looking to the interests of others.
“So for somebody who’s deaf, her ears are wide open to the needs of everyone around her,” Mead explained.
Mead is amazed that Aiken, a single mom, has found the time to sew 650 masks while caring for five adult sons, one of them in hospice.
“Marian is the Energizer bunny with no vanity,” Mead declared. “She is the most humble person.”
In fact, Aiken has parented or adopted 27 sons over the years, all with disabilities, like Kolya, a painter, who was born without arms.
“She’s a can-do person,” Mead said. “The boys are raised to believe there’s nothing they can’t do.”
Aiken lives by the same can-do spirit.
For her church’s annual Fall Compassion Week event, she also sews dresses and tote bags for sexually abused women in African hospitals.
“Sometimes people don’t realize they are capable and have the potential unless they try something new,” Aiken said of serving others.
So for sewing something new to meet her community’s need for protective masks, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Marian Aiken.