While COVID-19 has caused a significant shortage of personal protective equipment in hospitals and nursing homes in the state, a local motorcycle group was recently able to produce and donate face masks for employees at the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home.
Riders For Valor is a nonprofit consisting of 23 local motorcyclists who have been working to organize and participate in community fundraisers and honor missions, and volunteer at various events in the region. They aim to honor veterans, active U.S. military members, first responders and others demonstrating valor in the community.
The coronavirus pandemic offered a unique opportunity for the group.
According to Edward “Chip” Wilson, vice president of Riders For Valor, after the group heard the veterans home had a severe need for face masks, they “immediately began working to raise the money needed and finding seamstresses willing to help.”
Wilson said they began making 3D printed frames for the face masks and used materials donated by Home Depot for the filter pieces, along with rubber bands purchased from eBay for the ear pieces.
“Finding the rubber bands was the hardest part,” he said, as suppliers have been selling out.
Wilson was able to drop off the first delivery of about 100 3D printed face masks at the veterans home last Friday, and on Tuesday he said he would delivering 100 sewn face masks by the end of the week, all on behalf of the group.
“We’re happy to help the veterans home … our group is meant to honor our veterans,” and the caregivers providing for them, he said. “it was really the perfect fit.”
He emphasized the people on the front lines are “who really deserve the recognition” and said “the reason we do this is these are our heroes,” and right now, older veterans are a vulnerable population.
Renee Nordstrom, mental health coordinator at the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, said on Monday staff at the facility have been reaching out to the community for donations of much needed supplies, “to get any resources that they could.”
According to Nordstrom, one of the nurses at the veterans home knows Wilson, and after asking if his group could help out, he said he was on it. “Two weeks later, they donated 100 masks … and they’re really awesome.”
Riders For Valor are still working with the veteran’s home to help find additional filter materials for masks as well as surgical masks. Nordstrom said the home had ordered hundreds of surgical masks, but that order has been delayed.
The veterans home is still trying to secure more supplies, especially surgical face masks, reusable face masks and disposable isolation gowns, Nordstrom said, adding, “anyone out there who wants to contribute can call the veterans home” directly at 301-884-8171, since they have a whole system set up to handle community donations.
Riders For Valor has not only been helping the veterans home but also several other organizations during the pandemic.
With their partner, the Eclipse Group, they have helped produce and donate over 2,000 face masks to the Anne Arundel Medical Center, where last Saturday they delivered 100 free meals, provided by local restaurants and the Warrior Events Foundation, to the health workers at the facility. On Tuesday, they delivered 175 more.
Additionally, the nonprofit is in the process of donating sewn masks to the Atria Manresa Assisted Living Facility in Annapolis and another nursing home in Edgewater, Wilson said.
For more information, Riders For Valor can be contacted via email at RidersForValor@gmail.com.