By Kimmie Collins
Apr 30, 2020
Indiana State senior Rachel Engel already owns her own company, Urban FarmChic, but continues to work toward another goal. At the advice of a trusted family member, the single mother of three is pursuing a degree in exercise science and intends to apply for the physician assistant program after graduation. Now, Engel is taking on an even bigger challenge: making face masks to donate free of charge to those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.
What inspired you to help make masks?
My cousin, who is an emergency room doctor, was in need of N-95 mask covers. He reached out to his family to help make these much needed face masks. Then, as we continued to make face masks, other hospitals and care facilities reached out to us. Our project, Merciful Mask, began donating face masks to those in need.
Where have you donated the masks?
So far, we have been able to donate over 6,500 face masks to several states including Indiana, Illinois, Arkansas, Missouri, West Virginia, and Florida. Individuals, hospitals, nursing homes, Veterans’ Affairs, and other organizations have received masks.
How many face masks do you hope to produce?
We have produced over 6,500 with a goal of 10,000 to be produced. My mother and I had started making masks over a month ago, and now my sister and her daughter have joined Merciful Masks.
What does your company normally do?
Urban Farmchic is a unique boutique shop with a sweet tea and coffee bar located inside. We are located in historic downtown Rockville. I have been a designer for over 20 years and work on commercial and residential properties.
Can you describe your journey from Urban Farmchic to exercise science and becoming a physician assistant?
My journey to become a physician assistant was because of several events over the last 3 years. I became a single mom of three boys: Cruz (7), Diezel (6), and Axel (4). The boys’ dad left in 2017. I had moved from Illinois to have a family and gave up my successful business in Illinois. I don’t have the option of moving back, so I decided I needed to go back to school to be able to provide for my family. I have always had a passion for being fit and was very healthy before I had kids, running marathons and such. I also have a cousin who is an ER doctor and we decided that being a PA would be a good fit for the boys and me. So here I am in my second full year at ISU and loving every minute of it! It goes to show no matter how old you are it’s never too late to start over again.
To support Engel and her philanthropic efforts, visit Merciful Mask on Facebook. Merciful Mask wishes to provide 10,000 face masks free of charge and greatly appreciates any and all support from the community.