My name is Jaime Holthuysen. I am a real estate broker and adjunct professor of anthropology. I wanted to share my experience volunteering last year at the start of the pandemic.
In March 2020, I had a heart-wrenching conversation with a good friend who was a doctor helping Covid patients. She was simply overwhelmed. There was such a shortage of masks they had to resort to reusing ‘sanitized’ paper masks. At the same time a local woman in Woodinville had started printing 3D face shields and needed help organizing and delivering supplies and masks to medical facilities that were in dire need of protective gear.
We formed a small group, a core team of organizers and began asking for volunteers. This rapidly grew to hundreds of people producing 3D printed masks in their basements and garages, and nearly 100 volunteer drivers. We established distribution hubs and sought out support from large companies such as Amazon and Microsoft. Our designs were NIH approved, our core team was led by doctors and engineers but also firefighters, stay-at-home moms and people from a variety of backgrounds. We became a 503C non-profit. Our goal was to provide face shields until supply could catch up with demand.
My role was in organizing supply chain and distribution. Our operation lasted several months. There were many late nights and countless numbers of hours volunteered by our community. In the end, we distributed over 500,000 face shields, $1.5 million worth of free protective gear nationwide to frontline medical providers, senior homes, homeless shelters, First Nations reservations, and to local protests supporting Black Lives Matter.
I share this because it is a story of community and what can be accomplished when people care about others. In my work as a real estate broker and professor, my motivation has always been to support others in achieving their goals. It was a privilege to have been a part of this, seeing the immense dedication and the incredible result of such mobilization.
I firmly believe that change can be made standing together, uplifting each other, and supporting each other. 2020 was a year of hardship, loss, and struggle. It was also a year that demonstrated how, together, we have the infinite capacity to make change through our compassion and humanity.