“I grew up in the house next door to where I live now so I know most of the residents,” said Darlena Battle, vice president of the Fountain Heights neighborhood association and who is in the Corporate Affairs department at Alabama Power. “I choose to remain in this neighborhood. I want to make a positive impact in my community.”
The close connection to her neighbors and neighborhood gave a unique perspective on how to help during the spread of COVID-19. With many facing unprecedented challenges, Battle went to work to protect the people of Fountain Heights.
“I noticed a neighbor wearing a disposable mask for days at a time and knew that face coverings and personal protection equipment were an area of need,” Battle said. “I didn’t know how to sew before the pandemic started, but I could see that people needed a way to protect themselves, and others, and I knew that I could help my community.”
Battle’s commitment to help those in need turned into an adventure that most would be hesitant to undertake. Despite facing lengthy, socially distanced store lines to purchase fabric and then finding there is a shortage of elastic, Battle’s creativity and ambition kicked in.
“I spent hours watching videos and reading reviews trying to figure out how I could make a mask that would provide the highest level of protection, was reusable and would utilize materials that were not in a supply shortage,” Battle said. “After trying different techniques – and making more than a few sewing mistakes – I was finally able to make a mask that was ready to be distributed to those in need.”
Battle’s 100% cotton face masks are washable, have filters sewn in and are pleated to ensure improved breathability and safety. She has produced more than 300 masks that have been given at no cost to family, co-workers and people in the community.
“Taking care of where I live, and where Alabama Power serves, is important to me,” Battle said. “Providing masks may help someone remain healthy during this time and will let them know that they have a neighbor who cares.”