For Robby Bethel and Carolyn Deal, giving back to the community is something they’ve always done and will continue to do.
Both New Iberia natives, Bethel and Deal grew up on the west end of town and have spent their lives giving back to others.
“This is my community,” Deal said. “And I like the idea of helping out the community.”
Deal works as an attorney in New Iberia and Bethel served in the military, who then joined Habitat for Humanity but something about home kept bringing her back — the place where she learned to give back.
“I decided to return home and serve in the place I was born and raised,” Bethel said. “My whole life, my whole upbringing has been around service to people.”
Now during COVID-19, Deal and Bethel are once again serving their home community through making free face masks for children so they will feel safe at the start of the new school year and beyond.
“We were trying to have masks available for when the kids went back to school,” Deal said. “We were just concerned with people being covered and protected and being safe.”
It’s a perfect partnership for both Bethel and Deal, as the two work together to help create the masks. Deal does the cutting and sewing and Bethel handles the logistics.
“What I wanted to do is provide some form of safety for the residents of the city and the parish, not just the West End community because we are all interconnected,” Bethel said. “We are all one family, no matter where we live, what color we are, what religion, at the end of the day, we have to look out for one another.”
Looking out for children was an especially important task for the two, who want to restore normalcy and help bring down the total number of positive tests of COVID-19, which stands at over 2,100 cases in Iberia Parish.
Because material was hard to come by, they had to get creative in making the masks, like using old fabric from clothing. All of their masks are made out of three layers of cotton because it is comfortable and breathable.
Deal said using cotton also means it is more likely that people will wear them and keep them on. She thinks she’s made close to 200 masks, and the process is ongoing.
One point for both Deal and Bethel is making masks that the children would feel more comfortable in, and one way they are tackling that problem is putting football and basketball patterns on for boys and princesses and flower patterns for girls. Those small gestures, for both Bethel and Deal, would go a long way for their community for years to come.
“I just like to help,” Deal said. “I just like to think of others who may not be able to purchase masks at this time. And to help out the unity in the community.”
Bethel and Deal also are asking for support from community members in other ventures during the fight against COVID-19.
Those who would like to contribute can reach them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/robby.carrier for more information.