Sen. Affie Ellis of Cheyenne announced on Monday that she was donating her state Senate salary to help purchase personal protective equipment for Wyoming healthcare workers.
In the five minute video, Ellis explains how life has changed for her as a legislator and a mother over the last six weeks.
“The Legislature adjourned on Thursday, March 12,” Ellis said in the opening minutes of her video. “I had no idea I would go from being surrounded by hundreds of people and having dozens of conversations a day to being isolated with my family of five for the last several weeks.”
The senator discussed that during her downtime, she’s learned to make cloth masks for essential employees and has made more than 100 as of the time she posted the video. It was important for her to do this, because she was thinking not only of her family members and loved ones who might be at risk, but other Wyomingites’ loved ones, too.
While working on this project, Ellis experienced every sewer’s worst nightmare: running out of supplies, mainly elastic. She began to think of emails she’s gotten over the last few weeks from places like the COMEA Shelter, asking for supplies and one from a nurse at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, who asked the senator for help securing personal protective equipment.
“A national shortage means that Wyoming must compete for N95 respirators, ventilators, coveralls and gloves,” Ellis said. “They’re trying to conserve as much as they can, but much like my elastic, it’ll soon be gone.”
This is why Ellis decided to donate her legislative salary to purchase PPE for local hospital employees, with $30,000 being used to buy masks, surgical gowns and other supplies.
“It’s important for all of us to step up and go above and beyond,” Ellis said. “Not everyone can afford to make this financial gift, but if you can, do. Our nonprofits need you now more than ever.”
Ellis told Cowboy State Daily that she “definitely” worried that people would see her donation as a political strategy rather than a gift.
“That’s actually my biggest concern with this, but if anyone knew me, they would know that I’m a philanthropist at heart,” she said. “The real purpose of sharing the information about the donation was to inspire other people.”
The senator noted that it’s not always about giving big financial donations, but for people to figure out what they can do to be productive and help their community.
She plans to continue sewing masks for friends, family and the community, once she gets more elastic in.
“I’ve been thinking of that movie ‘The Three Amigos,’ because in the end, it’s the community coming together by sewing to save the day,” she said. “Quilters are having their time in the spotlight right now.”