Focus On: Dawn Collins

Dawn Collins has lived in Westport for 20 years although she originally hails from Maine. She lives with her daughter, a high school freshman, their dog and cat. 

My best friend’s daughter is a NICU [Neonatal Intensive Care Unit] nurse and she emphasized the seriousness of Corona Virus from the beginning. I am an elementary school special education paraprofessional and from the minute they sent us home from school, I didn’t go out without mask and hand sanitizer. People told me I was fool and that I looked like an idiot, and that masks do nothing but I didn’t care. I keep my groceries on my porch then I wash them and bring them in. I’m keeping us safe—my child, and myself.  

I wasn’t as scared in the beginning but I am more scared now. It’s the dribs and drabs of information coming in and the arrogant people who continue to cluster and think it’s not going to happen to them. I wonder is it because they feel they are that important or that they can afford the best doctors? I’m not sure what the thinking is and it scares me. I do think it’s harder on other people than on me because they haven’t learned to live without.  Before this we didn’t go out to dinner, we weren’t shopping to keep ourselves busy. So, on that end, I’m good. 

 In the morning on the last day of school we were told to help out making packets for what we hoped was a temporary closure and literally by the end of day it was “all hands on deck” making packets because we weren’t coming back. It went from 0 to 60 right away. We were hopeful it would be only a couple of weeks but anyone at that time who read news or was following international stories knew it was going to be much longer and was doubtful we’d return to school this year. Now teachers have an incredible amount of work. I’m stunned about how much they have to do. They’re working so much harder now while having to take care of their own kids at home. 

…teachers have an incredible amount of work. I’m stunned about how much they have to do.

I’ve been very busy, supporting my teachers by helping to provide activities that special education students can do at home and resources for parents to help them.  I’m also making masks for my friend’s daughter and the nurses she knows. So far, I’ve made 50 for her and her friends. It is good because I’m a person who needs a purpose. 

My hope coming out of this is that we will all continue to be good neighbors. People have shown me such kindness, I can’t even believe it. My fear is that so many people will lose their jobs. I don’t fear for myself–I’ve been poor, I’ve been needy, I know how to do it. I’m scared for the people in our community who work in hospitality or retail. What’s going to happen to them? I hope that people will take note. There are still people who think this is a hoax. I can’t wrap my head around that, that’s worrisome. I just want people to continue to be nice to each other.  

Explore More of “Westport In Focus”

To read more of the museums long lens oral histories please visit the Westport In Focus page.