The crews at Level Green Landscaping’s North Branch don’t wear your average, boring cloth safety masks.
They sport Snoopy. Planets. Cat masks that proclaim, “You had me at meow.”
They’re hand-crafted by Kathy Schneider, the effervescent mom of branch manager Joey Schneider. Nothing about her is boring.
Kathy sews 10 to 15 masks for the branch each weekend. Joey brings them to work on Mondays, and operations manager Jose Ruiz hands them out to grateful crews and managers.
“The guys really appreciate it,” Joey says. “They don’t know how to sew.”
Pay? No Way
Kathy has crafted close to 80 masks for the North Branch so far, including 35 in a marathon session over Memorial Day weekend.
When COVID-19 hit, Kathy headed to her pile of fabric remnants and started making protective masks for family and friends. She asked Joey if he wanted some.
“Landscaping people are out there doing essential work,” Kathy says. “Not on the same level as doctors or nurses or firefighters, but it helps people’s moods to look out and see their nice lawns and flowers.”
When the guys at work saw Joey’s mask made from University of Maryland fabric, they told him they’d pay his mom to make some for them.
“That’s ridiculous,” Kathy says. “They don’t have to pay me.”
“She’ll never take money for sewing for people,” Joey says.
A longtime volunteer, Kathy knits and crochets, too, often for charitable causes.
The Brain Behind the Masks
It’s easy to spot Kathy’s mask handiwork. Her fun fabrics often sport “geeky space stuff,” she says, like planets, constellations, and space shuttles.
The science-themed prints are a nod to her brainy profession. Kathy’s a retired health physicist. She worked for the U.S. government for 36 years, specializing in radiation safety.
She has a master’s degree in nuclear engineering science. She can also replace a heating element on a stove, fix toilets, and do minor electrical repairs.
But sewing, she says, “is one of my first loves.”
She took her first sewing class at age 10 and made her own clothes in high school.
She’s a wizard with patterns, adapting them when needed. “It appeals to the engineer in me,” she says.
She’s made costumes for her kids and grandchildren to wear in plays and for Halloween. Joey’s old bedroom is her craft room, piled with fun fabrics.
It’s not like Kathy has a ton of spare time to fill. During the week, she and her husband Bill take care of Joey’s three kids.
But she has a soft spot for Level Green.
“Hi, I’m Joey’s Mom”
“They’re such a family-oriented company,” Kathy says. “They’ve been great to Joey. He’s happy there, and that’s what you want for your kids.”
She likes being a part of the extended Level Green family.
Level Green maintains the property at the HOA where she and Bill live. When she sees crews show up, she ducks out with a smile. Sometimes she’s even wearing a Level Green shirt, inherited from her daughter, Lizzy, who worked at the company for a while.
“I go out and say, ‘Hi, I’m Joey’s mom.’”
“They’re like my family, so she brings ‘em all in, like a big extended Catholic family thing,” Joey says.
“I’m glad my mom can do it,” Joey says of the mask making. “It makes me feel good, and I know it makes her feel good too.”
“If it makes things easier for them, a little less challenging, it gives me a good feeling inside,” Kathy says. “I was raised to help where you can. My dad used to say, ‘You've lived a full life if you’ve helped one person.’
“As long as Joey says they need masks,” Kathy says, “I’ll keep making them.”
Want to Join the Level Green Family?
Want to join a team where even the moms are part of the family? Come talk to us.
Do you want to partner with a landscaping company that values family and takes care of each other?
If you’re not already a Level Green Landscaping client, we’d love to add you to our growing list of happy customers.
Our focus is on commercial properties like offices, mixed-use sites, HOAs, municipalities and institutions in Maryland, Washington DC and parts of Virginia.
Contact us at 202-544-0968. You can also request a free consultation online to meet with us one-on-one.
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