Providence mom channels grief into helping others during pandemic


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A local woman is spending her free time on the streets of Providence, not only supplying masks to those in need, but also working through her own grief.

Gemelya Barros says she loves to help others and has made more than 1,000 masks to hand out to people driving and walking, as well as those experiencing homelessness.

“I know people needed them, and I live right here in the neighborhood, so I came out here and just started distributing them, every day or every other day,” she said. “This area, you run into a lot of people that need masks.”

Barros’ masks include typical face coverings, but she’s also made some with clear mouths for the deaf community and face shields for kids.

Her daughter Shemeeka was killed in a triple murder back in 2012.

Barros says giving back to others and spreading positivity, especially in the time of the coronavirus, helps her deal with the pain of losing her daughter.

“My daughter was murdered in Providence, a triple homicide,” Barros said. “I was very angry, but I have a love in me I can’t even express sometimes.”

“So in between my tragedy, I had to think of a triumph and how to survive it myself,” she continued. “So being kind to other people, making masks, it helps with my grief.”

Barros says her masks are free but she is accepting donations of fabric. Go here to request a mask or make a donation.

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