HOLLAND — A local woman has spent dozens of hours, and hundreds of dollars, to provide isolation gowns to Holland Hospital in recent weeks. After spending her federal stimulus check to purchase fabric and make nearly 80 gowns, the hospital is now purchasing fabric for her to make 50 more.


Brenda Vander Meulen started sewing masks “almost immediately” when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. After signing up as a volunteer on the state of Michigan website, she learned Holland Hospital needed gowns and pivoted her focus there.


“I got connected through Michigan’s website,” she said. “Through that, I found out Holland Hospital was looking for isolation gowns out of a special, waterproof fabric.”


After doing some research, Vander Meulen found a company selling the fabric wholesale and ordered a 50-yard roll for $250.


“I found a wholesale site in Pennsylvania that’s prioritizing any orders for medical purposes,” she said. “We had gotten our stimulus money and God has been good to us to where we didn’t need that to be OK. I thought it was a good way to share the stimulus.”


Vander Meulen proceeded to order several more rolls and has produced 79 gowns to this point, with the help of her husband and a neighbor, while respecting social distancing. So far 15 gowns have gone to Hospice of Holland and the rest to Holland Hospital.


“They take about an hour each, so I’ve done maybe 80 hours of work so far,” Vander Meulen said. “I’ve really enjoyed making them. They’re a little more interesting than sewing masks, which I’ve made a lot of, too.”


After spending more than $1,000 on fabric, Vander Meulen spoke to the hospital saying she’s happy to continue making gowns, but the expenses were piling up. This week, the hospital purchased fabric to have her make another 50 gowns.


“It validates that this is a real need that the hospital has,” Vander Meulen said of the hospital buying fabric. “I’m not in healthcare, I can’t help someone who’s sick with COVID-19. But I can make a difference in the community for those who are helping.


“As a follower of Jesus Christ, I’m called on to be his hands and feet. This is a very tangible way I can be the hands of Christ when our community needs it.”


— Contact reporter Mitchell Boatman at mboatman@hollandsentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @SentinelMitch.