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In less than 24 hours, Keila Sanchez was able to make 60 masks and hand-deliver them to medical staff at Spectrum Lakeland in St. Joseph and Niles, Mich. Since then, she has also sent face masks to other healthcare facilities out-of-state, including one in New Jersey. Along with her deliveries, Keila sends a note of encouragement with a Bible verse. Most recently she’s been writing Nahum 1:7, which says, “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.” | Photo courtesy Keila Sánchez

May 4, 2020

'God, Use My Hands'

While many are quarantined at home figuring out what to do with their time, Keila Sánchez, scarf designer and church member at Paw Paw Seventh-day Adventist Church, has put her skills to work sewing medical face masks for local and out-of-state healthcare providers. 

“God blessed our daughter with life six years ago and the least I can do is to bless others in this time,” Keila says. “Through my work, I’m able to share a story, hoping to encourage other families in their fights and just to share that God is still there. We can’t control the future but He’s always there.” 

Keila’s passion for designing began when she started sewing from home to cover her daughter’s medical expenses. Her daughter, Saila, was born with Congential Heart Disease leading to five open-heart surgeries at a young age. Thankfully, these life saving surgeries were a success and Saila is a thriving and joyful, living miracle. 

In order to better protect Saila as they traveled to doctor’s appointments, she designed a blanket to fit Saila’s car seat. It wasn’t long after posting a photo on social media that other mother’s began to take notice and started to contact her about making car seat covers for them. 

“In a couple of weeks I had several orders for car seat covers. And that’s how we were able to pay for my daughter’s medical expenses,” Keila shares. “And it turned into a growing business.” 

Keila‘s passion and creativity are the driving force behind the growing brand, KozySaila, named for her daughter. Featuring a versatile collection of accessories, designed with a mix of fabrics including velvet, leather, and cashmere, KozySaila has gathered a group of loyal fashionistas who can’t get enough of her bold, elegant, artistic pieces. 

While Keila’s degree is in Art Education, she soon realized that her true calling was in fashion design. After several years of creating wearable art pieces inspired by her love of color and patterns, she sought to transform the everyday scarf. 

Today, KozySaila’s scarves have become a fashion-forward, year-round accessory that has garnered the attention of many, including the fashion world. 

“Last year, KozySaila started growing even more. An agency reached out to me from New York and invited me to Paris Fashion Week to showcase my first designer collection,” says Keila. “I prayed and asked God to show me what to do and I left the decision in His hands” 

As a small business owner, Keila had concerns about the future of her business with Covid-19. But early in the morning, she got up and spent time with God and prayed, “I’m going to keep doing my part, but you’re my business partner. So we’re going to do this together.” 

It wasn’t long after when Keila received a text from a healthcare friend asking if she’d thought about sewing homemade face masks. 

“My friend got me thinking about it and I’d heard about shortages of masks,” says Keila. “So I put away the scarves I was going to work on and instead spent half of the day designing a CDC approved face mask pattern.” 

Throughout the day, Keila received more messages and social tags about making homemade face masks. One message in particular about nurses and doctors having to reuse their medical masks for up to a full week helped to strengthen her determination in making more face masks. Keila continued to work throughout the night and until noon the next day. 

“I felt God was telling me that it was time to do something,” says Keila. 

 

In less than 24 hours, Keila was able to make 60 masks and hand-deliver them to medical staff at Spectrum Lakeland in St. Joseph and Niles, Mich. Since then, she has also sent face masks to other healthcare facilities out-of-state, including one in New Jersey. Along with her deliveries, Keila sends a note of encouragement with a Bible verse. Most recently she’s been writing Nahum 1:7, which says, “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.” 

“The Pediatric team from Spectrum Health Lakeland is very grateful for [her] donations [and support],” says Grashelle Dungo-Peña, pediatric nurse. “Your gift is greatly appreciated and will be used to assist Spectrum Health Lakeland to provide the very best in healthcare to our community.” 

Within the first week, Keila has sewn more than 150 face masks for medical workers and concerned family members who want to protect their loved ones. 

“Thank you to all the SUPERMEN & SUPERWOMEN in the frontlines!” says Keila. “ I feel that we all need encouragement right now, and if I can do that through a facemask, I won’t stop. God takes care of us and He’s providing, one face mask at a time.” 

Interested in helping this ministry? Visit www.facebook.com/kozysaila


Katie Fellows is a Michigan-based freelance writer.