Jeliner Jordan, who used to work as a tailor at former fashion giant Robert Hall Clothes, has rediscovered her skills in the age of COVID-19.
The 76-year-old Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) resident has been creating colorful face masks to help friends and fellow residents during the crisis. Health officials recently recommended wearing face coverings in public.
A resident of CHA’s Zelda Ormes Apartments, she has made about 250 face masks since the pandemic began. It started simple enough, with Jordan making 20 masks for a nursing home through her church. They were so popular, she was asked to make 20 more. Then 20 more. Before long, word in her building got out, and now she’s making masks for just about everybody she knows, CHA officials report.
It's not only served the senior population at Zelda Ormes and the surrounding community, but has also given Jordan a sense of purpose.
“Oh yeah, I love to sew,” Jordan says. “When I started making masks, I wasn’t bored anymore.”
Jordan has lived at Zelda Ormes for about 15 years. Besides her time at Robert Hall, where she did alterations, she also worked on the 18th District remembrance quilt for Chicago police officers. When she retired, she started doing free alterations at Zelda Ormes—and continues to do so. That has made her very well liked among her fellow residents.
The masks are made of cloth, and since elastic “is like gold” these days, Jordan improvised and began using ponytail holders. The hard part isn’t making the masks, she says. The hard part is obtaining the materials. Warehouses are closed, and fabric is hard to come by.
Fortunately, she recently received burp cloth donations. She makes the masks and then passes them out to residents, managers, service coordinators, and office workers at Zelda Ormes.
Jordan downplays the service she is doing for her community.
“I love to do anything that has to do with sewing,” she said. “It’s not like it’s work.”