OC seamstress turns from quinceañera dresses to masks to help her deaf son read lips

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- After COVID-19 devastated her business and face covering requirements made it difficult for her deaf son to communicate, the owner of a downtown bridal shop teamed up with other advocates of the deaf and hard of hearing community to create Read My Lips Masks.

The owner of Shelsye's Bridal on Fourth Street made a living off quinceañeras and other extravagant, large-scale events like weddings, first communions, baptisms-selling all the couture associated with them and the renting out the venues.

The industry is almost at a standstill because of the COVID-19 pandemic and Minerva Alvarez told Eyewitness News during an interview Thursday in Spanish, "If there aren't events, they don't want to buy dresses."

Another challenge for this business owner has been the requirement for face coverings.

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Her son Joshua is deaf and struggles to communicate if he can't read lips.

Motivated by her son's need, and after coming together with others in the deaf and hard of hearing community, Read My Lips Masks was born.

Joshua and others like him can see what people are saying through the plastic on these face coverings his mom makes.

With more than $11 thousand in donations raised on GoFundMe, these masks have gone out to other families, hospitals, DHH teachers, schools and the work has helped Alvarez keep her family afloat. She said it has helped cover the cost of food, gasoline and other indispensable items.

Alvarez tells other parents struggling, all you need to get through this time is, "love for your children."

Alvarez said so far, her team has made 7,000 of these face coverings and she's taking orders for purchase or donations. Anyone wanting to donate toward these efforts can do so on the organization's GoFundMe page.
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