A national healthcare expert based in suburban Chicago and a “Dancing with the Stars” alum have partnered with the dance industry’s ballroom dressmakers to help hospitals get the respiratory masks healthcare workers so desperately need.
Lyndean Brick, President and CEO of Advis, Inc. and Tony Dovolani, former “Dancing with the Stars” dance professional and current Fred Astaire Dance Studios International Dance Director, are working to put masks in the hands of healthcare workers through the “Million Masks MOVEment.”
The initiative was born when Brick took two of her passions, healthcare and ballroom dancing, and came up with a unique solution to making healthcare worker masks — employ ballroom gown seamstresses to make the masks.
Brick knows firsthand what frontline healthcare workers are facing, as she is in close contact with her clients, largely hospitals and healthcare providers nationwide. She also knows that many seamstresses now need work, as ballroom dancing competitions have been put on hold. That gave her an idea.
“I’ve talked to many hospitals that are desperate for masks,” Brick said. “Then I thought about all these seamstresses that are not working because people currently don’t need gowns for competitions. I thought if we could combine forces, we could really make a positive difference.”
She called upon Fred Astaire Dance Studios, including Dovolani, and the dance industry’s ballroom dress makers, Dore Designs, Dance America and Creative Canopy, to partner with Advis and start this MOVEment. The goal is to manufacture and distribute high-quality protective masks for healthcare workers. The masks produced by this program will cover the N95 medical-grade masks, helping to extend their lifespan.
“Our frontline workers need our help. The MOVEment is an opportunity to assist them and keep these seamstresses employed,” Dovolani said. “But we need others’ help, every donation counts and will help us achieve our million mask goal.”
Fred Astaire has established a GoFundMe page, click here. All donations are tax deductible through Fred Astaire’s Foundation.
Rae Josephs, Area Director for Fred Astaire Dance Studio Illinois, said when Brick approached them with the idea, they were eager to help.
“Lyndean has a lot of contacts in healthcare and knew we could make a difference,” Josephs said. “She asked if we could help take this nationwide and we jumped on the opportunity to help.”
Luann Pulliam, President of Fred Astaire Dance Studios International, said it is very difficult to be closed and the dance community is looking for ways they can assist.
“We are excited to be a part of this,” Pulliam said. “It is important for everyone to do their part and we are thrilled to help spearhead this effort.”
The masks are being produced by eight seamstresses at Dore Designs in Cape Coral, Florida, three seamstresses at Creative Canopy in San Francisco and three seamstresses at Dance America in Margate, Florida. The seamstresses are working six days a week to produce the masks and ship out daily.
“This is a time of national need and I have always wanted personally to be able to serve at a higher level,” said Dawn Smart, owner of Dore Designs. “This is an opportunity to do something for a lot of people beyond our dancers.”
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Hannah Pfaff is the marketing coordinator at Advis, Inc., a national healthcare consulting firm in Mokena, IL. Originally from Arkansas, she received her degree from the University of Central Arkansas and lives in Chicago with her husband.