Brenda Lyseng Sews Masks for Front-Line Staff

Grant director supports DCTC and Inver Hills workers during COVID-19 pandemic

Brenda Lyseng, grant director at Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College, has been sewing protective masks for front-line employees working during the COVID-19 pandemic. Brenda is ideally suited for her volunteer project: she owns and operates a small business called Sew Together.

“In mid-March, it was becoming apparent that our healthcare workers didn’t have the personal protection equipment (PPE) that they need to keep themselves safe,” Brenda said. “The quilting world became abuzz with discussions about face masks: did hospitals and clinics want them? In what situation would they be effective? What was the best design? What was the best fabric?”

Brenda reported that when Blue Cross Blue Shield and Allina Health came out with a request for hand-made masks, area quilters put aside their other projects and started making masks. Brenda was also inspired to quilt masks for personal reasons.

“My daughter is a nurse at Children’s Hospital in St. Paul,” she said. “She is assigned to the unit that will treat children with COVID-19. My husband has an underlying health issue that makes him susceptible to the virus. He spent almost a month at United Hospital with the H1N1 virus, and I don’t care to repeat that experience. My daughter-in-law works at a group home where she cares for people that are susceptible.”

Brenda Lyseng protective mask project gallery

More about Sew Together

Sew Together is a small business that provides a fun environment along with fabric, materials, and support for groups to sew and quilt their own creations. Projects are designed for both beginners and experienced quilters alike with the goals of using each person’s creativity to create something unique while completing the project during the event.

Brenda’s role at both colleges is centered on managing a Department of Education (DOE) Title III federal grant aimed at supporting adult learners. The funded project’s title is “Adult Learners: Service, Success, & Growth.” The problems addressed by the project include:

  • High numbers of adult learners and first-generation students
  • Declining student success rates
  • Increasing demand for online and hybrid credit courses
  • Advising system and related processes present numerous challenges
  • Prior learning assessment policies, procedures, and application inconsistent and not aligned with equivalencies or easily transferred
  • Limited professional development opportunities for faculty and staff

So far, Brenda has made 17 quilted masks for front-line staff members working to keep the Inver Hills and DCTC campuses open for  students who need to use computers and pick up food.

“I have also donated seventy-five masks to United Hospital, the group home, my daughter and husband, and a friend that had COVID-19,” Brenda said. “I have another twenty-five masks started for a nursing home. Most of the quilters I know are making masks and donating them. We have been sharing elastic and metal nose pieces plus tips. My sister owns a fabric dyeing company, and she has been donating fabric. I have one friend that has made 600 masks!”

Learn more about how DCTC is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by visiting:

COVID-19 Updates/Coronavirus Information