Paying it Forward – One Mask at a Time

    By: Village of Palmetto Bay Mayor Karyn Cunningham

    Mayor Karyn Cunningham

    When Palmetto Bay resident Caryn Potucek was seven years old her Aunt Sandy taught her how to sew. She fell in love with it. Her Aunt called it her “shy therapy”. “I was very, very shy,” says Caryn. “Sewing was a way for me to achieve and express my creativity without speaking.” By the time Caryn was in middle school she was sewing pants and skirts for her teachers. She continued sewing on and off for years.

    When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Caryn Potucek dusted off her Bernina sewing machine (a gift for her High School graduation from Miami Palmetto Senior High Class of ‘76) and started making masks. Caryn researched the CBC recommendations for safety and initially struggled finding materials and supplies, but she persisted and made it happen.  At the beginning of the pandemic she converted her office at the family owned business, Clarke Electrical Contracting, Inc into a mask making factory and got busy. “At first, I wanted to protect family, close friends and our electrician’s families, but then word of mouth and a few Facebook posts later and the mask making took off like crazy!”, says Potucek.


    Caryn has made over 500 masks since March and mask making has become a family affair.

    Along with husband Jim, they have made masks for their son’s squadron in PNS, surgical teams, children, teachers and school staff, families with medical issues and her Palmetto Bay Mayor!

    “I try as much as possible to pay it forward. As long as masks are needed my Bernina sewing machine will stay active!”, said Caryn.

    Caryn and Jim Potucek have lived in Palmetto Bay for 27 years.  They have two sons, USMC Captain James Clarke Potucek and Attorney William Anthony Potucek and two grandchildren, Taylor and Ryker.

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