Local Vietnamese community donates hundreds of hand-sewn masks to nonprofit that teaches vocational skills, reform

Community Over Crisis

MILLCREEK, Utah (ABC4 News) – Vietnamese communities across the Wasatch Front have come together to offer support to Utah’s homeless population.

Last month, the community, made up of several small business owners forced to close during the pandemic, combined forces to give back to those on front lines of COVID-19 pandemic.

Since then, the community, led by Huong Wang, has come together and in a matter of 10 days, they sewed over 7,000 masks.

“They got together and made masks to distribute, free of charge, to organizations that support homeless people and people that are compromised and at risk because of the virus,” Rick Graham, Vice Chair of Pioneer Park Coalition explained.

The Pioneer Park Coalition is helping their effort.

“We are just regular individuals, but we hope that each of us do a small gesture of care and kindness, this world would be a better place and we will get through this together,” Wang said.

The two groups partnered together to donate the masks to The Other Side Academy (TOSA).

TOSA is a reform training of sorts. The program is available as an alternative to those seeking a change from the life they’ve chosen in the past. Many of the participants, called students, are convicts, substance abusers, or homeless.

The organization’s website says “we change lives by changing behavior.”

The Academy is self-sustaining because of the income generated by its various vocational training schools, including The Other Side Thrift Boutique in Millcreek. TOSA students work in these businesses to learn skills.

When the pandemic hit the boutique was forced to close but has recently been given the green light to open if they follow certain stipulations.

RELATED: Reopening Utah: What does the transition from red to orange phase mean?

One of the many stipulations to re-opening is that they require all students and customers to wear masks. So far they have had to “make do” with DIY no-sew masks or disposable paper masks, but thanks to a donation of 400 expertly sewn masks from the Vietnamese community, that need has been filled.

Beau Clark works at the boutique.

“We were making make-shift masks out of t-shirts that were slightly ill fitting, and certainly weren’t as fashionable as this, and then Pioneer Park Coalition comes out of left field and says ‘by the way, the Vietnamese community would like to help here’ and we were like ‘yes please!,” Clark said.

TOSA’s Millcreek Thrift Boutique is located at 3320 South 1300 East in Millcreek.

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