New club promotes mental health amidst pandemic


Courtesy of Paper Bag Mask Club

Noah Trofimow with club donations

This fall, Suffolk University junior marketing major Noah Trofimow started a chapter of The Paper Bag Mask Foundation at Suffolk. His hopes; to offer students coping mechanisms for the stress and anxiety they face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The E-Board consists of Trofimow as president, along with Suffolk students Ellie Walach as vice president, Riya Kamani as secretary and Eric (Weijun) Chen as treasurer.

These leaders plan to host classes and workshops based around movement, creativity and meditation through exercise, writing, arts and breathwork. Additionally, fundraisers will be held for non-profits in the Greater Boston area.

The Suffolk Paper Bag Mask Club is an extension of The Paper Bag Mask Foundation, which was founded in Massachusetts in March by Trofimow and Fran Kilinski in light of the pandemic.

The non-profit aims to gather students virtually to help them combat poor mental health and collect donations for organizations such as Anna Jaques Hospital and Bridge Over Troubled Waters. This semester, Trofimow decided to bring the purpose to Suffolk and start a chapter for the community.

The term “Paper Bag Mask” was created by Trofimow as a previous clothing brand logo in April 2019. The purpose of the brand was to “spread awareness for mental illness while raising money for suicide prevention organizations,” said Trofimow. He worked with Kilinski to turn the message of the clothing brand over to the foundation.

Courtesy of Paper Bag Mask Club

“We all know someone who wears a mask, whether we realize this or not. Often, when people are struggling on the inside, they hide their emotions behind a fake-smile,” said Trofimow. “This is their alter-ego– their mask. Sometimes, this mask is worn to hide internal pain from loved ones or to avoid being labeled and criticized by peers.”

Meetings are held according to the members’ schedules and host a brief discussion about current events and their impact on each individual’s mental health. The members are also planning potential upcoming club activities.

This semester, the club will continue to host two virtual classes every week that all students are welcome to attend.  Every Wednesday at 7 p.m., a circuit-training workout is run to focus on the club’s primary pillar of movement. A guided meditation for beginners is held every Friday at 1:30 p.m.

The club has also been planning to coordinate fundraisers that will donate supplies to Boston-based non-profits.

Wallach, senior business management major at Suffolk and the vice president of the chapter, has been positively impacted by the club.

“The community I have met through [Paper Bag Mask Club] and topics we discuss have encouraged me to be more involved in community outreach and be more open on why mental health matters,” said Wallach. “I hope more students will join us in making a difference in the Boston community and help us foster a safe space to discuss mental health.”

The Suffolk Paper Bag Mask Club has been actively looking for new members within the Suffolk community to join. Membership is open to all majors and all classes.

Follow the Suffolk Paper Bag Mask Club on Instagram

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