Scout sews good­will with mass of mas—ks

San Francisco Chronicle - - BAY AREA - By Steve Ruben­stein

A 1­year­old Menlo .ark boy is on his way to be­com­ing an agle Scout, thanks to his twin sis­ter, his grandma’s sewing ma­chine and 0 yards of bright pink fab­ric.

“I didn’t re­ally want pink,” said .arker Brown, “but it was the only color they had left.”

.arker, an eighth­grader at Hil­lview Mid­dle School, was try­ing to dream up a ser­vice project that would help him qual­ify for the top rank in scout­ing when he heard that the Ronald Mcdon­ald House at Stan­ford Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal had run out of face masks for its clients.

“I had to do some­thing,” .arker said.

He talked his twin sis­ter, Madi­son, into show­ing him how to use the sewing ma­chine. He crowd­funded enough money for an on­line fab­ric or­der. He re­cruited five dozen friends and neigh­bors to help. He copied the sew­it­your­self face mask pat­terns from the Cen­ters for

Dis­ease Con­trol and .reven­tion web­site.

And he and his small army started sewing. At first .arker’s masks

didn’t look like the ones in the pic­tures.

“The straight lines were curved and the thread was all bunched up and messy,” .arker said. “Those are the masks I kept for my­self. =ou can’t do­nate those to peo­ple.”

Madi­son showed her brother what he was do­ing wrong. She’s one minute older than he is, .arker said, and she doesn’t let him for­get it.

.retty soon .arker got the hang of things, and he and his pals sewed on. One hun­dred pink masks, then 200, then ~00. When he had run out of fab­ric and vol­un­teers, he had a grand to­tal of 1,280 mostly pink masks. Not just pink but, as it said on the fab­ric la­bel, “bub­ble gum pink.”

That’s O , .arker said. The virus can’t read.

The other day, he and his fa­ther, Brent, dropped off the masks at the Ronald Mcdon­ald House, and a funny thing hap­pened. .arker said that mak­ing the masks turned out to be a much big­ger deal to him than mak­ing agle Scout.

“I don’t re­ally know how to ex­plain it,” he said. “Help­ing the com­mu­nity when it needs help. That’s im­por­tant. And it makes you feel good. I never felt any­thing like that be­fore.”

Hold the chicken lips, A 75 years ols vet­eran ed­u­ca­tor had to move out of her house for two months to make it hap­pen, but a long­stand­ing San Fran­cisco sum­mer school en­rich­ment pro­gram has been saved.

But there’s no chicken lips and lizard hips this year.

Re­becca Ch­erny has run the Sum­mer­gat ºgifted and Ta­lented duca­tion» pro­gram ev­ery sum­mer for 0 years, hold­ing kid­friendly classes in such top­ics as chem­istry, math, theater, cook­ing, fenc­ing, pa­per air­planes, belt mak­ing and chess.

She usu­ally rents a San Fran­cisco el­e­men­tary school to do it. This year, the San Fran­cisco Uni­fied School Dis­trict told her — with only days to spare — that be­cause of the pan­demic she would need a new spot.

“It all hap­pened at the last minute,” Ch­erny said. “I was on the phone for days, mak­ing hun­dreds of calls to ev­ery school I could think of.”

With time run­ning out, Holy Name School in the Sun­set Dis­trict agreed to host the pro­gram — pro­vid­ing Ch­erny cut the en­roll­ment to about one­tenth its usual size and make it avail­able only to the chil­dren of es­sen­tial work­ers.

She also had to agree to have some­one stand at the front door of the school ev­ery morn­ing and take the tem­per­a­ture of ev­ery ar­riv­ing kid. That some­one turned out to be her.

Be­cause of the in­creased risk, Ch­erny fig­ured she had bet­ter move out of her own house for two months and rent a nearby apart­ment to re­duce the chance that she might trans­mit the virus to her 78year­old hus­band, Robert.

It was a small sac­ri­fice, the cou­ple agreed, to save a pro­gram that has served more than 20,000 kids over the years.

What about the chicken lips and lizard hip­sae

Those are lyrics of one of count­less sing­along songs that started each Sum­mer­gat day. The smaller size of the pro­gram meant the mu­sic and the chicken lips had to go. but they’ll be back next sum­mer, Ch­erny vowed.

For $2,10 any­one can be a rob­ber baron: Rid­ing BART used to mean hop­ing for an empty seat. Now it means rid­ing in an empty car.

Af­ter avoid­ing BART for months, this re­porter and his bi­cy­cle boarded a train at the Dublin. Pleasan­ton Sta­tion. BART was ex­pected to lose $600 mil­lion by the end of the next fis­cal year and has two brand new South Bay sta­tions bereft of pay­ing cus­tomers, so the agency could use any fare it can get.

A mask is re­quired, and dis­in­fec­tant is a good idea. Tra­di­tion­ally, many BART riders have car­ried small bot­tles of al­co­hol for medic­i­nal pur­poses. Now more than ever.

BART is eerie as a “Twi­light @one” episode. Leav­ing the sta­tion, the last car in the train was empty. No ac­ro­bats or dancers. No­body pulling up seat cush­ions to check for way­ward coins. No one else at all. The lone pas­sen­ger and his bi­cy­cle felt like a 19th cen­tury rob­ber baron in his own pri­vate rail­road car­riage.

All the way to Cas­tro Val­ley, au­tos whizzed by out­side the win­dow. Speed lim­its still ap­ply on BART, even if they have be­come mat­ters of opinion on In­ter­state ~80.

In Cas­tro Val­ley, an­other pas­sen­ger boarded the car. Glances were ex­changed, eyes vis­i­ble just above mask level. All th­ese empty seats over here are mine, his glance said, and all those over there are yours. In San Le­an­dro, a third pas­sen­ger got on, wiped down his seat and sat ex­actly in the mid­dle of the car. This was se­ri­ous stuff, so why did it feel like grade­school class­mates traf­fick­ing in cooties?

At ev­ery sta­tion came the an­nounce­ments di­rected at nonex­is­tent pas­sen­gersb Trans­fer. Board the Oak­land air­port shut­tle. Cross over the plat­form.

No­body did.

A lot of peo­ple talk to them­selves in pub­lic th­ese days. No rea­son a BART op­er­a­tor can’t do it, too.

The car emp­tied out for the ride be­neath San Fran­cisco Bay. Usu­ally it’s im­po­lite to speak on the phone while rid­ing BART, but not if no one else is around. It’s one of those if­a­tree­falls­in­the­for­est things. All alone, 13~ feet be­neath the bay, yelling through a face mask over the var­i­ous BART squeals and shrieks to a friend on the other side of the coun­try. Only in the re­mark­able year of 2020.

In down­town San Fran­cisco, at the height of the af­ter­noon rush hour, three peo­ple boarded. They spread out the way a cap­ful of bath oil spreads out in the tub. Still, it was a good enough rea­son in 2020 to get off the train, grab a squirt of hand san­i­tizer from the dis­penser and go out­doors where all the so­cial dis­tances were.

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