The Covid-19 pandemic has been a series of tragedies, and a big one has been this: the virus has disproportionately impacted already vulnerable communities, making them even more vulnerable. Older populations have been particularly affected, as coronavirus seems to prey upon seniors. Individuals experiencing homelessness also have been heavily impacted because they have trouble quarantining or sheltering in place.
In the early months of the pandemic, The Providence Institute for Healthier Communities (PIHC) saw the increasing need for more PPE in the Snohomish County communities that they serve. Local nonprofits that served vulnerable populations began to scramble for items like hand sanitizer, masks, and even toilet paper, as these items were snapped up in bulk by skittish consumers.
In response, the team at PIHC started a few initiatives to help meet the emergent C-19 crisis:
Live Well Local Gives is an online Covid-19 hub, where organizations can post their needs — PPE, hand sanitizer — and altruistic donors can fill these requests. It’s a hub that matches organizational needs with resources and donors.
Snohomish County Mask Brigade
Above: Mask Brigade volunteers catch up at a virtual happy hour.
Later in 2020, in an effort to meet still-increasing demands, PIHC also launched the Snohomish County Mask Brigade— a website where volunteer mask-makers and generous donors can donate face coverings. Volunteers pick up the masks from donors at their homes. It’s a contactless process, ensuring the safety of both mask donors and volunteers.
To date, the Snohomish County Mask Brigade has distributed nearly 35,000 face masks. Several of these were made from volunteer mask makers, which includes over 203 volunteer mask makers throughout Snohomish and parts of King County. The Mask Brigade has distributed PPE to 79 organizations in need.
Helping nonprofits, utilizing college student field work
Above: PIHC and UW-Field Work Students, Dacia Wagnon and Eldina Djuderija, both UW Bothell Seniors graduating in the winter/spring, participated in the Snohomish County Mask Brigade: Friday Mask Outreach, located at the Interfaith Family Shelter (inside Trinity Episcopal Church).
The PIHC Mask Brigade is a volunteer-driven effort to make and distribute masks. PIHC also works with volunteers to procure much-needed transparent masks and loop-style masks for seniors.
PIHC is helping to meet PPE needs in our community through mask donations distributed through food banks and other nonprofits. Nonprofits need help in 2020. Even during a good year, many nonprofits struggle with budgets and the monetary factors of meeting client needs.
PIHC can move masks more efficiently than ever thanks to the recent help of UW Bothell students. During the past few months, students in the Health Studies program have been assisting with gathering and distributing masks. By doing so, these students get “field work” internship credit toward their transcripts while earning real-world experience. Many hands make light work!
The need for proper and even specialized PPE has never been greater. Thanks to the PIHC’s Mask Brigade and the students of UW Bothell, our community can breathe a little bit easier behind their face coverings.
If you would like to participate in these programs, please visit Live Well Local Gives or the Snohomish County Mask Brigade websites to make a donation. Your community will thank you for your generosity!