Deerfield’s Sarah Meunier swaps softball gear for sewing kit to make cloth facemasks

  • Westfield State outfielder Sarah Meunier, of Deerfield, makes a cloth facemask to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/WESTFIELD STATE

  • Westfield State outfielder Sarah Meunier, of Deerfield, shows off one of her cloth facemasks that she is making for family, friends and others who wish to wear them to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. COURTESY WESTFIELD STATE

  • Westfield State outfielder Sarah Meunier, of Deerfield, bats for the Owls in this undated photo. Meunier is making cloth facemasks for family, friends and others who wish to wear them to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. COURTESY WESTFIELD STATE


Staff reports
Published: 4/10/2020 4:43:02 PM
Modified: 4/10/2020 4:42:46 PM

With the NCAA spring sports seasons KO’d by the COVID-19 pandemic, Westfield State junior softball outfielder Sarah Meunier has repurposed her time in a positive way – making cloth facemasks for family, friends and others who wish to wear them to help prevent the spread of the virus.

“The masks I am making are not N-95 masks, which are preferred by healthcare workers,” the Deerfield native and Frontier Regional graduate told the Westfield State sports information department. “N-95 masks can’t be made at home, but the ones I am making are a good alternative when the N-95 masks are not available.”

To help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted recommendations on its website:

■CDC is recommending the use of a cloth face covering to keep people who are infected but do not have symptoms from spreading COVID-19 to others.

■The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.

■The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Medical face masks are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders, as recommended by CDC.

■The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.

■CDC continues to recommend that people try keep about 6 feet between themselves and others.

Majoring in movement science with a health science double-major, Meunier plans to attend a physician’s assistant program after completing her undergraduate degree.

“My grandmother volunteers at the hospital, that’s probably how it started,” said Meunier of her interest in the healthcare field.

Meunier said making the masks is part of a project requirement for a medical ethics class.

“I’m really re-learning to sew again in the process,” she said. “I used to do it more when I was younger. The first few masks took a few tries. I had worked on some comfort quilts with my grandmother in the past.”

Meunier said she has made about 100 masks so far. She said she is making smaller ones for children.

“We had a team Zoom meeting, and she was cutting out fabric while we talked,” Westfield State softball coach Colleen Bannister said. “It’s just another way she can give of herself.”

Bannister said Meunier gave her several masks for her elderly parents to use.

“Sarah loves community service and understands that it feels good to give. Anything that our team does with community service, she’s in giving 100 percent,” said Bannister.

Meunier volunteers at Baystate Franklin Hospital when she is home, and at Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield while she’s at school. She’s filled a variety of roles at the two hospitals, but said her favorite is that of ‘baby cuddler’ at Franklin, helping monitor some of the newborn babies.

While Westfield State has moved all classes to online and alternative delivery for the spring, Meunier said she is handling the break from campus, and the social distancing directives well.

“It’s good. I’m very schedule oriented, I manage my time pretty well, and take pride in doing that,” she said. “The time that I’m not spending studying I’m using to make masks, work out and practice.”

Meunier appeared in four games for the Owls before the season was canceled.

“She loves making things happen behind the scenes,” Bannister said. “She really inspired more teammates to work out before preseason so that the team came into the year in better shape this year.”

Meunier hit .333 with two home runs, five doubles, and 18 RBI in 2019. She stood out in conference play where she batted .471 with five doubles and 15 RBI in 13 league contests before being named second-team all-Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference.

“Sarah just kept working and working, and her swing was so natural, we had to find a place in the field for her to play,” Bannister said. “We knew she wasn’t going to be a shortstop for us, but we needed to reward her hard work with playing time, and she really worked at playing left field.”

Meunier said she misses the routine of playing softball. The Owls’ annual spring 10-game Florida trip was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s hard going from playing every day in the spring to not at all,” she said. “It’s a beautiful day outside today and I’d expect to be outside for softball. It was sad coming home from Florida.”

Meunier said she is trying to stay active at home.

“I’m lucky that around my home there are some good loops for walking and running, and some trails for hiking,” she said. “I have a bow net and brought my bat home, so I have been able to work on hitting a little, and my sister used to play softball so she will throw with me.”

Meunier said that Westfield State’s physician’s assistant program will be her first choice when she graduates. She plans to pursue a gap year after graduation to work in the medical field to accumulate the working hours necessary for admission to the program. She hopes to start working as a CNA this summer.

“I just want to work to contribute, I want to help be there for people,” said Meunier. “I don’t like to stand by watching.”


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