Self-taught seamstress uses talents to sew masks for Ohio National Guard members, other front-line heroes
Story by 1st Lt. Caroline Pirchner, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs
COLUMBUS, Ohio (04/30/20)
Since the beginning of April, Julie Hernandez has spent countless hours hand making nearly 300 masks to support Ohio National Guard members and health care professionals serving their fellow citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her masks are reaching not just the hearts and hands of Soldiers and Airmen on duty across the state but are even reaching front-line workers as far as Florida, all by word of mouth. While this may be the first time she’s helped nurses and doctors, Hernandez is no stranger to supporting the military.
“I grew up giving back, and serving the military is close to my heart. My grandparents were both veterans of World War II,” Hernandez said. “I would sell poppies on Veterans Day to raise money for the VFW. It’s just always been a part of who I am.”
Hernandez, a self-taught seamstress, is a talent manager for a company in the entertainment industry that, in part, is responsible for creating gowns and clothing for fictional characters like princesses and superheroes. She’s now using her talents to sew face masks for the real-life heroes serving their fellow citizens during the pandemic.
“I am honored to use my abilities and what I am passionate about for such a good cause,” Hernandez said. “This is the way that I am able to help — from a distance.”
Helping others is second nature to her. When she married her husband, whose first language is Spanish, she took it upon herself not just to learn Spanish, but master it. After becoming a certified ESL (English as a Second Language) instructor, she began helping Spanish-speaking families in Columbus learn English. She even went on to help a local church develop an ESL program that is still being used to this day, more than a decade later.
The Rev. Angie Sherer was serving at that same local church when she met Hernandez.
“We immediately connected over our love for teaching and service,” Sherer said. “Service is definitely her love language.”
Hernandez, who has been buying materials for the masks out of her own pocket, received a donation from Sherer to create masks for Ohio National Guard members because Sherer has a personal connection to the mission. Sherer’s husband, Ohio Army National Guard Maj. Jason Sherer, is currently serving as a civil-military officer for Joint Task Force 37, the command hub that leads the approximately 700 Soldiers, Airmen and Ohio Military Reserve members on duty supporting the state’s COVID-19 response.
As Ohioans, one common sentiment has been consistent for both the Ohio National Guard members on duty and citizens just like Hernandez — when tough times arise, they come together to help their communities when help is needed.
“We really are all in this together,” Hernandez said. “Our future is in our hands, so we really have to take charge of what we’re doing.”