May 6, 2020

The Mask Brigade

From Dean Westfall’s Accolades – May 6, 2020

As face masks have become the norm on campus and beyond, it’s important to remember the faces behind the masks – the colleagues, friends and strangers whose days and circumstances may be more difficult than we know. It turns out there is something else behind many of these masks: a story of generosity.

Dr. Kevin Raney, Professor and Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, was surprised and grateful when Dr. Tung-chin Chiang, an Assistant Professor in the College of Public Health and research collaborator with Dr. Alan Tackett, dropped off fabric masks for everyone in his department.

Dr. Raney learned that Dr. Chiang and her family have donated thousands of masks worldwide – including over 1,000 at UAMS alone. Dr. Chiang and her husband, COPH Professor Dr. Joseph Su, have put in countless hours to the project at UAMS. Dr. Chiang and her sister Jenny, with help from other sisters in Taiwan, designed their masks and coordinated production and shipment to places with limited immediate access to masks. Their efforts are dedicated to their late father, Fong-chan Chiang, and in the hope of having an impact on reducing the spread of COVID-19.

“We hope everyone can wear masks together to bring down the curve worldwide!” Dr. Chiang wrote to Dr. Raney.

Perhaps you have received one of these masks – or one of many thousands of others that have been made or contributed by generous, resourceful and creative members of Team UAMS and the community. There are countless good folks on our Mask Brigade, and we are grateful for them all.

Dr. Chiang has a great idea for anyone who wants to give thanks for those contributing masks: Make a contribution of time or money to the UAMS Stocked and Reddie Food Pantry. I applaud this idea and encourage you to consider it.