Inspiring People: Making masks fun in senior living

Reporter: Lindsey Sablan Writer: Joey Pellegrino
(Credit: WINK News)

Most Floridians have been allowed to go unmasked if they wish, but the residents of senior living facilities have not. WINK News anchor Lindsey Sablan met one woman who took a mask mandate, grabbed a marker and made magic.

Chris Wilson’s zest for life is plastered all over her face—and her mask, too, and all her friends’ masks. She moved into Calusa Harbor, a senior living facility in Fort Myers, at a tough time.

“I first came here in 2020, in October, in the middle of the pandemic,” Wilson said.

“We screen all of our visitors coming in, really promote social distancing and handwashing and, of course, the mask,” said Jennifer Butler, executive director of Calusa Harbor.

There was a Halloween parade scheduled shortly after she moved in, but Wilson lacked a costume. That’s when she decided to customize her own face mask.

“That’s the first mask I ever made,” Wilson said. “Then everybody said, ‘Oh, I love it! Can we do some more?'”

Almost a year later, she’s done masks for Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day and special requests.

“Somebody said, ‘We’re cowboys, we want some cowboy stuff,'” Wilson said. “I think the hardest one was the cardinal… she said, ‘I love cardinals, and I want to wear them to church.'”

Wilson even drew the building they all call home. She and her box of markers have taken what’s been a trying year-and-a-half and created an army of resiliency. Even Jennifer Butler wears a Chris Wilson mask.

“It’s a feeling that we’re together through the pandemic,” Butler said.

“It’s been a joy,” Wilson said. “It’s made me live again.”

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