Generosity Unmasked

As many of us continue to work virtually from the safety of our homes, many individuals do not have that option. Many of our friends, family and peers are working at the forefront of COVID-19. Without proper personal protective equipment (PPE), people with jobs deemed “essential,” especially in the medical field, are potentially exposed to the virus just by going into work every day. Not to mention the shortage of PPE in many places, therefore not everyone has access to necessary face masks, shields and other protective gear.

With this shortage in mind, Netsmart associate Nicole Slaughter gathered supplies and took matters into her own hands. Slaughter and her husband worked to support frontline employees who are courageously serving our communities during this difficult time.

“Recently, my husband and I have taken up a new hobby to help support the medical staff who are battling COVID-19—mask and shield production! We did our research and with so many materials being scarce, we gathered the best resources that were available to us.

We are the type of people who struggle to sit back and not act when problems arise, so it was easy for us to feel inspired to jump in however we could when we realized the gravity of the situation. We could see how people might be fearful and wanted to reduce/remove that burden from as many people as possible. We might not be doctors or scientists, but we knew we were capable of making a difference in other ways!

I’ve focused largely on the cotton masks, which are created using flour sacks and MERV 13 furnace filters. These masks are truly one size fits all, as the adjustable ribbon allows you to secure it tightly to your face no matter the size or shape.

The shields have 3D printed head pieces and use lamination paper as the guard. At first, we used elastic to secure the shields. But when we ran out of elastic, we switched over to a design that fits great using no elastic!

As of now, we have donated 122 (and counting) articles of PPE that we have created ourselves. We’ve also recruited several other people to join the efforts and assisted them in getting started. We have not accounted for their inventory since they are assuming responsibility to donate PPE on their own. We continue to speak out about the importance of everyone helping where they can, whether it’s through PPE creation, donating money, educating each other, or just checking in on people who may be impacted most during such trying times.

The most rewarding part of the experience has been to see the community pull together for the greater good of humanity. A pandemic provides the opportunity to cast all our differences aside and put us all back on the same team. We’ve had the pleasure of connecting with some amazing people along the way. Plus, I also learned how to sew!”

We are inspired by Slaughter’s efforts to give back to her community in such a hands-on and impactful way. It’s an important reminder for us all to support each other and help in any way we can every day.

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