San Francisco Responding to Needs During the Pandemic

By Sisters Bernie Gotelli & Sylvia Llerena

Sisters of the Presentation, San Francisco. are remaining productive during the COVID-19 pandemic by responding to various needs both within their own and wider communities through prayer and a variety of projects aimed to help lift spirits and keep people safe.

Making Masks for Nurses

Picture above, part of the sewing group, from left to right, Sisters Judith Cunningham, Denise Bourdet, Ellen Cafferty, Toni Martinez, Joanne O’Shea and Bernie Gotelli, hard at work in the motherhouse sewing room.

In the midst of “shelter in place” notices a suggestion was made that perhaps our motherhouse community might wish to make masks for the nurses. This idea was greeted with a great deal of enthusiasm, if not talent.  Several sisters watched a video with directions, pondered the pattern and decided to proceed. Some collected and washed colorful sheets to use, others made filters by cutting new vacuum cleaner bags and assembled the material along with elastic. Many had not touched a sewing machine in several years, and the machines were reluctant to share their secrets. Thus two other categories of helpers were formed: the “rippers” and the “machine-direction-readers.” Eventually, the first 30 masks were produced.

Ingenuity became a necessary ingredient as there is a shortage of elastic.  Instead, shoelaces were used for fastening, until these too were sold out.  Watch for the next 50 masks tied with colorful lightweight rope.

True to Nano’s spirit we are determined to see that our nurses and those in neighboring areas have their own colorful masks.

Easter Baskets for SafeHouse Residents

Under the guidance of Sister Sylvia Llerena, Easter baskets were prepared for and delivered to the women at SafeHouse. Sisters at the motherhouse also painted watercolor cards with a message of hope, which were delivered to the SafeHouse residents along with the baskets. The program director told Sister Sylvia that none of the women had ever received an Easter basket and were overwhelmed by the generosity and thoughtfulness of the Sisters of the Presentation.

Painted cards for Easter baskets given to the women at Safehouse.

SafeHouse, a nurturing and empowering living community for homeless women who have survived sexual exploitation, prostitution, and/or sexual trafficking, was established in 1998 by Reverend Glenda Hope, an ordained Presbyterian minister, and Sister Rosina Conrotto, then president of the Sisters of the Presentation in San Francisco.

Photographs courtesy of Sister Rosina Conrotto