When Kyle Brooke, a Senior Workplace Experience Manager for the CBRE Microsoft Puget Sound Host Experience Services team, heard people in the Seattle area were getting sick from COVID-19, he wanted to do something to help the community. Kyle’s wife is a nurse, who specializes in pulmonary and thoracic care, and her hospital floor was one of the first to see people tested for the virus. As the pandemic began, she and Kyle discussed the impact this might have on medical and essential workers as the demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) started to rise.
Fueled by a desire to help those on the frontline, Kyle turned to his team and CBRE Microsoft account leadership with an idea: let’s leverage the time of colleagues, who were no longer supporting clients on-site, to sew cloth face masks. From this idea came the “Mask Squad,” an incredibly compassionate and dedicated group of CBRE Hosts who, so far, have created more than 1,000 masks for local hospital facilities and essential workers.
“My favorite part of working on the Mask Squad is knowing that I am helping our communities, our healthcare workers and our essential staff at CBRE stay safe during this time.”
The Squad is comprised of all levels of sewing talent. Some are beginners and first-time sewers who wanted to pick-up a new hobby and give back to the community. Others sew by trade, including one Host who worked in a suit shop for many years. A few Squad members also help cut and prepare materials to allow for quicker production. The team utilizes tips from CBRE’s Health, Safety and Environment group (HSE) to ensure they put safety first as they construct the masks. Once a batch is completed, Kyle distributes the final products to those who need them.
The intricately designed masks are constructed from colorful cotton prints, elastic ear bands and simple sewing thread. Made for both adults and children, some are themed, including Easter, Disney and sports team prints. The most important stitches, however, are the threads of care, creativity and compassion sewn into each one. Several CBRE essential workers, who previously worked at Disneyland, were especially touched when they received Disney-print masks sewn by the Squad.
“I am really proud to have been a part of this amazing project, and I look forward to the day when we can go back into the world and be safe and healthy again. I appreciate the feeling of togetherness with our team and being able to give back to the community and the first responders, who so desperately need this when risking their safety every day.”
The Squad recently celebrated an exciting milestone—more than 800 masks were delivered to different hospitals throughout the Seattle area. This number includes seven different medical facilities, including Seattle Children’s Hospital, The Everett Clinic and Virginia Mason. The other 200 masks were shared with CBRE essential workers and additional Microsoft vendors.
Not only has the effort helped make a meaningful community impact, but it also enables the team to stay connected, energized and inspired. The Squad utilizes Microsoft Teams technology to communicate about their progress, track needed supplies and catch up virtually with their colleagues.
“This project allows us to stay in touch and make a difference,” Kyle says. “The level of support that has come from our employees who have contributed their time and effort, and from our leadership team, has been absolutely incredible.”
“This has been unique opportunity to give back to the community at such a vital time. It is in giving that we receive. It is a springboard to further giving and has kept us in a positive frame of mind. We have been so fortunate—I thank CBRE and Microsoft for the opportunity to share in this endeavor. I know I speak for others when I say, ‘We are truly grateful for the opportunity.”
Recently, hundreds of nurses throughout Seattle returned to work a shift at a hospital. Over their N95 masks, they wore the creations carefully sewn by the Mask Squad, which not only helped keep them safe but also reminded them that they are appreciated and cherished. One of the nurses was Kyle’s wife, who happily donned hers before seeing her first patient.
A CBRE Lobby Host irons a face mask.
A CBRE Lobby Host sews a face mask.