— Paul Boomgaart
There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a hash impact on our lives. We are all worried about the health threat this outbreak poses to our families and finding ways to cope with the stay at home orders and other precautions we should all take as responsible citizens. On top of that there is the looming fear of economic collapse and bread winners everywhere losing their jobs.
I started to feel helpless after a few weeks of following the outbreak in the media and hearing nothing but bad bad news followed by the promise of worse news to come. Beyond the obvious dooms day news, what bothered me was that there seemed to be nothing we could do to fight back. We were all on our heels waiting for more bad news.
But then I heard Claudia talking about how she was helping Sofie sew mask covers for Lori, who was trying to help her peer group of doctors to get the PPE gear they needed. These ladies were off their heels; they found a way to do something and help their community. I also noticed that they were very quickly iterating over mask cover designs based on feedback from the doctors, and were homing in on a model that was a good balance between reasonably easy to sew and exactly what he folks on the front lines of the Covid-19 wanted.
As I searched the internet to better understand what was going on, I noticed that there was a growing community of sewers that wanted to help out by creating mask covers. The problem was that most seamsters were struggling with figuring out what design to follow and the effort was chaotic at best. I saw tremendous potential in this effort; if we can provide good information to the growing number of people who wanted to volunteer and help, we could focus all that positive energy and accomplish a focused result that would help us all meet the Covid-19 challenge.
I reached out to the team and explained my plan and how they could help. Within a day we had a name, logo, website, and enough IT infrastructure setup to run a medium size business. We partnered up with the small but growing community and supported them with whatever was needed.
What happened next is nothing short of amazing. Thousands of good hearted volunteers joined the cause. We had amazing individuals step up as organizers and moderators of Facebook group based communities. Volunteers that could not sew helped out by cutting fabric from patterns, or would ferry supplies and completed work between the 13 and growing Covid Rangers drop off locations around town. There was a group of businessmen and talented Mechanical Engineers who iterated over and designed 3D printable PPE. In all the website grew too over 30,000 users within a month.
As a result we were able to ship thousands of mask covers, ear guards and face shields to the doctors, nurses and hospitals that needed them. Equally important, we helped a great number of Americans join the fight against Covid-19 and show appreciation for the medical professionals who are working so hard to get us through this.
We all got off our heels.