Teamsters Local 50 has worked tirelessly to protect its members and make sure the essential workers who are keeping the country running are able to perform their jobs as safely as possible. In mid-March the Centers for Disease Control and other health experts recommended people wear masks whenever six-feet social distancing would be difficult to maintain, and there was a dire need for masks, especially in rural areas of central Illinois. Masks were hard to come by, and Local 50’s President Pat Nichols was searching high and low to find enough for his members who work on the front lines as essential workers. Enter a mother with an undying impulse to help people, and her sewing machine.


62 year-old Paula Hoover sews together a mask (Photo: Abby Guyette)



“My mom is a seamstress, and when this all started she started making masks for us. I posted a picture of her making the masks, and all of the sudden we started getting comments from nurses and police and other people who needed masks, so she recruited me and my sister to help, taught us how to use her sewing machine and we went to work making more masks,” said Abby Guyette.


A thank you post on Facebook from the Murietta Police Department

A medical professional thanks Abby and her mom for their mask donation on Facebook


Paula Hoover and her three daughters Abby, Tammy and Beth began working to fill orders from folks for a few masks here, a dozen there, but once word spread about their impromptu New Athens, IL mask factory, they started getting larger orders for masks in the hundreds. That’s when Teamsters Local 50 President Pat Nichols reached out to Paula for an order.


L-R: Abby Guyette, Tammy Heinecke, Paula Hoover, Beth Hoover (Photo: Abby Guyette)


“We needed about 200 masks quick for our members working at General Cable. So I got a hold of Abby, and they sewed us up 200 masks in 72 hours,” Nichols said.


The orders just kept coming in, and so far, Paula and her two daughters have made over 3,000 masks. Paula and her team were working round the clock to make masks for anyone who needed one.


Abby Guyette sews another mask. Paula and her daughters have sewn and donated over 3,000 masks since mid-March (Photo: Abby Guyette)


“Once we saw the incredible work these women were doing to help our community, we had to help them out. We made a couple donations to thank them for all they are doing for us, and everyone else out there,” Nichols said.


Abby says orders are still coming in for masks, but her mom refused to take any money for the masks, performing the work out of the kindness of her heart.


Paula and her daughters use any and every type of pattern in making their masks (Photo: Abby Guyette)


“Pat made a personal donation and a donation from the union and I had to convince her to accept that money and use it to buy more material to make more masks,” Abby said. “She’s so giving, that’s just the way my mom is. She helps raise $10,000 annually for the Alzheimer’s Association with a motorcycle run. This year would have been her 10th year doing that.”


Nichols said the need for mask was great among his members. Some employers provided them for workers, but the majority of them did not. Local 50 members include a wide array of professions, from government employees to delivery drivers, healthcare professionals to factory workers. Nichols also acquired a shipment of 1,500 N-95 masks for his membership last month to meet the growing need.


Local 50 President Pat Nichols decided to print up banners letting Local 50’s essential workers that they are appreciated


In addition to providing PPE, Local 50 had banners printed and placed outside its many employers thanking Teamsters for the essential work they’re providing during the pandemic.


“Our job is to take care of our members who are out there doing the work that’s necessary to keep America running. That’s why they’re working, and that’s why they’re important. We’re keeping the country running. We want to thank them and show our members that we’re united as a union and behind them 100%,” Nichols said.


A Teamsters Local 50 sign outside Caseyville Village Hall and Community Center

A Teamsters Local 50 sign outside Franklin Hospital