I was working at The Makery, a makerspace in Brookline, MA, in February of 2020, which of course was the early days of the COVID pandemic. During the upswell of makers, designers, and engineers coming together to crowdsource PPE design and production, I took the initiative to get The Makery involved. I joined PPE working groups from MGH, a consortium of Boston area makerspaces that met every few days about PPE updates and started testing the designs that were being posted by these groups. My boss connected me to a woman named Faith Michaels, who is very well-connected in the Brookline area and was able to rally hundreds of volunteers. She also connected me to an automotive designer named Jeremy Katz, who was producing face shield sheets en masse but didn't have the capacity to assemble the shields. That's where The Makery came in. I asked if I could take over The Makery's large event space, as well as the adjacent Crossfit gym that I happened to be a member of, and started setting up assembly lines. With Faith's help, we recruited over 200 volunteers, working in 3 4-hour shifts a day, assembling thousands of face shields to be sent out to local hospitals, schools, nursing homes, dentists, and more.
I was the lead on this project, setting up the space for assembly, managing volunteers, overseeing all of the assembly, coordinating deliveries, and ensuring we had enough material from Jeremy Katz to keep the line moving.
After about two months of assembly and distribution, we gave away over 30,000 face shields to organizations from Boston to New Mexico to France. While exhausting and stressful, this was an incredibly rewarding experience. It was a way for me and the volunteers to feel like we were doing something to combat this global nightmare. The amount of comradery and collaboration that came about both among our volunteers and within the maker community was like nothing I've ever seen before or since. It was truly a miraculous show of humanitarian spirit and I'm proud to have been a part of it.