Medical staff across the country have shared about the current shortage of protective equipment.
Hospitals everywhere are struggling to find masks and other protective gear.
Thankfully, community members are stepping up to help—including churches!
One church in California recently volunteered to repair a massive number of protective masks for medical personnel.
Because they filter out approximately 95 percent of airborne particles, N95 masks are essential for healthcare workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. But these masks are in increasingly short supply.
Recently, the San Diego healthcare community discovered a stock of 300,000 N95 masks in storage! It was an encouraging moment—until county officials realized that the masks had been in storage so long that they were no longer usable.
The bands that would ordinarily keep the masks in place on doctors’ faces were so brittle that they would snap at the slightest touch.
In all other ways, the masks were up to CDC standards, so the county hated to waste so much protective equipment. But who would possibly have the time and manpower to fix the masks?
That’s when the Rock Church, a congregation in San Diego, stepped up to help.
“The county contacted us and said, ‘Could you take this on and get these done?’” said Mickey Stonier, a pastor at the Rock Church.
“It’s a big need for the medical community,” Pastor Stonier acknowledged. “[So] we said, yes, what an honor.”
“The Rock Church is very focused on serving our community,” Stonier added.
To Stonier and other congregants, repairing the masks was a clear and simple way to serve their community. They would be fulfilling an immediate need, just as Christ did so many times during His work on earth.
“It’s really just a matter of coming alongside, giving the most practical help we can give,” said Miles McPherson, another pastor at the church. “This is an honor to help nurses and doctors.”
“We need to go over and above for our medical staff right now,” Pastor McPherson continued. “I know that they have an important job right now and it’s up to us to help in any way that we can.”
The church quickly recruited hundreds of volunteers from its congregation and the surrounding community. Retirees and others with spare time have stepped up in a big way, meeting at the church to start the process of repairs.
Repairing the masks is a simple process—volunteers simply need to cut off old bands and tie on new ones—but it will require the efforts of nearly 200 volunteers each day.
With respect to governmental recommendations about social distancing, the pastors and other leaders are doing their best to make sure volunteers operate safely.
Special precautions have been taken to ensure that the masks are not contaminated as they are being repaired.
“People can’t just show up,” said Pastor Stonier. “They have to call for an appointment, get screened, and then they’re stationed in a spot where they can repair the masks.”
“People go to a station, and they’re over six feet apart,” he continued. “There’s hand sanitizer at each station and latex gloves and everything.”
Stonier and McPherson were touched and encouraged by the large numbers of church and community members who showed up to volunteer, and they were thrilled that the church could be used to house such an effort.
“Our church site was deemed an essential place of operation to get this done,” noted Pastor Stonier. “The response has been overwhelming.”
The Rock Church is providing a model for other communities in need of repaired N95 masks.
“We have been contacted by other counties that have a million masks that need the same repairs,” said Stonier. “They’ve asked for a template to follow and where the purchase the elastic bands they need.”
“So, we’re helping other counties follow our example.”
“We’re all about establishing hope, and this has been a great opportunity to provide an encouraging message…of what happens when people really help each other. It’s not about the Rock, it’s not about any organization, it’s about us all pulling together.”
The team estimated that it would take a few weeks to repair all 300,000 of the N95 masks, but they are optimistic that their hard work will pay off.
Pray for the pastors and volunteers at the Rock Church as they serve their community! May God be glorified in the effort to repair this essential protective equipment.