Green Cove Springs, Fla., April 16, 2020 – Challenge Enterprises, a person-centered social enterprise for those living with disabilities, is creating custom-made and sewn facemasks for every employee at Community First Credit Union. This is the third facemask project Community First has funded, including a mask project with three other credit unions to benefit Ascension St. Vincent’s and a project with the Clay Chamber to benefit first responders in Clay County.
Challenge Enterprises has been manufacturing products ranging from trauma packs for bullet proof vests to weed recede landscaping bags and everything in between, since 1998. Recognizing the need in the market for custom-made facemasks during COVID-19, Challenge Enterprises retooled its industrial sewing operation to make masks. Challenge Enterprises employees approximately 242 workers in various industries across Clay County and beyond and 12 of its workers work in the industrial sewing warehouse in Green Cove Springs. Challenge Enterprises has retrained numerous workers to switch jobs from their previous work to the sewing operation COVID-19 response.
“Challenge Enterprise workers are making hundreds of masks for companies, organizations and first responders,” said Nancy Keating, CEO of Challenge Enterprises. “We are thrilled Community First asked us to create these masks for their frontline employees while keeping our sewing operation going. As 77 percent of Clay County residents leave the county for work and with limited transportation options, providing these jobs for this often-underemployed part of our population is critical.”
The masks are custom sewn from fabric and elastic and provide a customizable fit for the wearer. They are the contoured masks that mold to nose for greater comfort and fit than the standard pleated variety. They are designed to be machine washable.
“All our employees will be given a mask for their protection and the protection of others as they perform their essential duties,” said Tracy Mann, VP of human resources at Community First. “We started working on this program when the CDC recommended workers and the public consider wearing masks outside the home. This partnership provides a valuable service and supports a local nonprofit through jobs and work.”
Challenge Enterprises is a social enterprise that creates work opportunities and promotes sustainability for individuals living with disabilities. The enterprises are represented in two primary sectors: the Federal Government (SourceAmerica program) and Commercial (private sector). These opportunities provide unparalleled benefits for customers and workers. Challenge Enterprises’ professionals and volunteers have assisted hundreds of individuals achieve success by becoming more self-sufficient in their community. Challenge Enterprises is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that promotes the Power of People and Possibilities. Visit http://www.challengeenterprises.org/
Community First Credit Union of Florida is a state-chartered credit union based in Jacksonville serving anyone who lives or works on the First Coast. Community First is one of the 10 largest credit unions in the state, serving more than 145,000 members and with assets of $1.8 billion. Community First has 19 locations and 340 employees. A not-for-profit, Community First is a full-service financial institution offering banking, loans, mortgages and investments for consumers and businesses across the First Coast.