by Dennis Dalman
During the virus crises, there are so many needs to be met here, there and everywhere, but fortunately there are many people stepping forward to fill those needs.
One of them is Lori Dornberg, the long-time teacher of family-and-consumer science at Sartell Middle School. For years, Dornberg also taught a sewing class, and her sewing skills are coming in handy these days as she sews protective face masks for St. Cloud Hospital.
Dornberg is quick to point out that she is only one of many people making the masks. Another, she noted, is Ann Doyscher-Domres, the Sartell school district’s Community Education adult program coordinator. Yet another, she noted, is Mady Bertsch, a Sartell ninth-grader.
Dornberg’s mother-in-law in Underwood also makes the masks, as does her mother and other women who live at Woodcrest of Country Manor in St. Joseph. And there are many more mask-makers whose names Dornberg does not know.
One of the sixth-grade teachers at Sartell Middle School, Gary Rosin, has a daughter who is a nurse at St. Cloud Hospital. She lamented the urgent need to get more face masks, and Rosin, knowing Dornberg’s sewing skills, mentioned that need to her. While exploring online, she found a face-mask pattern on the website of the Courier Press newspaper in Evansville, Indiana. One of Dornberg’s hobbies is quilting, so fortunately she had lots and lots of cloth materials stored away in her quilting stash. For the elastic face straps, Rosin managed to find some to give to her.
In one recent weekend, Dornberg made 65 face masks, which she gave to Rosin to give to his daughter, who took them to the hospital. The face masks are not meant for doctors or nurses on the front line – those dealing up close and hands-on with infected patients. Instead, they are meant for the general population, such as people coming to the hospital for emergency help.
To make the masks, Dornberg first cuts out 6-inch by 9-inch rectangles of tightly woven cotton and flannel cloth. Using her sewing machine, she sews them together with the straps sticking out, then sews two rows of pleats on the shorter side.
“It takes about 15 minutes to do one of them,” she said. “It’s just a little something that makes me feel as if I’m making a difference.”
Dornberg is also the academic extension coordinator for Sartell Middle School. As the spelling-bee advisor, she was eager to go to the Twin Cities last Friday for the state competition. But, like so many other events these days, it was canceled.
“It’s so unfortunate for the middle school kids who worked so hard,” she said. “I have teacher friends all over the country who are dealing with the same kinds of things.”
And like people everywhere, Dornberg is homebound, self-isolating and teaching her middle school students online. At home (she lives between Cold Spring and Avon) she enjoys good company – her husband, Randy, a cabinet maker who works in his shop in the backyard; and daughter Sarah, a veterinary-clinic employee who lives in Superior, Wisconsin. and who is currently staying with her parents as she recovers from knee surgery.
“We’ve been playing a lot of cribbage games,” said Dornberg, who has also been doing a lot of sewing.