With an uncertain U.S. economic forecast, no state budget in sight, and a national health crisis causing procedural changes almost weekly, you’d think that the chief financial officer of UNC Greensboro’s College of Visual and Performing Arts might have her hands pretty full right now.

If you think that, you haven’t met Brigette Pfister, CVPA’s Assistant Dean of Finance. Balancing budgets and managing the college’s operational systems by day, Pfister still finds time to spend at the sewing machine in her basement making COVID-19 protection masks to donate to healthcare workers in the Triad and beyond:

“I have two friends who are physicians at Cone Health, and another who is an ICU nurse in Washington state. We were talking about the shortage of PPE (personal protection equipment), and I asked if using cloth masks over their N95 masks would extend the life and effectiveness of the N95s and they all said “yes”. So, I started sewing! I tried three of four different patterns before settling on the one I am using. I tweaked it a bit because all the stores are out of elastic, and because I got feedback from my friends in healthcare about what I could change to make them better — like adding cloth ties instead of the elastic and adding wire to the top so that you can mold the mask to your face.”

In recent weeks the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that everyone should cover their faces when leaving their homes. Pfister says that’s when more friends began asking for masks. She had made and given away about eighty of them when she got a call from UNCG’s Director of Environmental Health and Safety, asking if she could make masks for university facilities staff. Pfister says she’s happy to keep sewing:

“I recently inherited my mother and grandmother’s sewing supplies. My grandmother made my mother’s wedding dress, and my mom used to sew all my clothes when I was little. I wasn’t sure what to do with all that stuff until this happened!”

For now, that equipment is being put to very good use, as Brigette Pfister seamlessly balances her spreadsheets and sewing needles in this age of coronavirus.

This story is part of our new series, CVPA Cares, in which we will feature alumni, faculty, staff and students and their acts of caring during this time of sheltering in place. If you have a story to share, please send your information to [email protected] with CVPA Cares in the subject line.