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Northern Colorado mom and nurse, caring for dying husband, finds purpose in PPE drive

Corrie Hopler_Denver7 Everyday Hero
Posted at 8:07 AM, Aug 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-18 10:08:47-04

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Corrie Hopler will be the first to tell you she's not a seamstress, but when the pandemic brought the need for more personal protective equipment (PPE), the working nurse answered the call.

"I read the CDC guidance and noticed that one of the things they recommend doing is using cloth gowns as isolation gowns instead of our traditional paper ones which are disposable," Hopler said. "So I just put a call out there on Facebook if anyone knew how to sew and could help start creating these gowns. It kind of exploded from there."

That's how the group Sew It For COVID was born. The Facebook page is a place where crafters come together to make much-needed gowns and masks.

"We did get people actually from all over the world joining the group and sharing patterns, and tips and tricks," Hopler said.

One of those people was Ginny Conahan. She said she felt helpless just sitting at home and was compelled to act.

"When I saw this I said, 'Oh, this is for me, this is exactly what I want to do,' and so I joined it and it was so beautifully, beautifully organized," Conahan said.

Together, the volunteers made and donated more than 5,000 masks and hundreds of caps and gowns.

"I originally started doing parking lot pickups where I would open my trunk and people would dump stuff in, but it was getting to be too much, every pickup my car was completely full," Hopler said.

As this full-time nurse and mother of four kids helped a world in crisis, she was in the middle of a heartbreaking battle at home. Her husband was nearing the end of an all-out, year-long war on cancer.

"He would help out and it kind of gave him something to do as well," Hopler said. "It was a difficult time and he passed away in July."

Many of Hopler's new crafting friends didn't even know her husband was sick.

"When you see somebody in the community rowing the boat, especially at their own expense it means so much, it’s incredible," said volunteer Deanna Krausse.

There is no doubt life can be messy and painful, but for Hopler, this has been a gentle reminder of the human spirit and just how resilient it is.

"What an amazing community we have here in Northern Colorado — it's blown me away," she said.

If you're interested in donating to Sew It For COVID, visit the group's Facebook page.

Molly Hendrickson anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30-7 a.m. She also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on Denver7. Follow Molly on Facebook here and Twitter here. To nominate a hero in your life, click here.