The day COVID-19 shutdown the Warren (Michigan) Technical Center is the day Travis Fick jumped wholeheartedly into the fight against the virus.
“It was a Friday. I believe March 20. I had been paying attention, so I knew there was a shortage of personal protection equipment, so I started a Facebook group to see what we could do,” says the Local 160 member.
Immediately, he posted information about the need to get protection gear to medical professionals. He called businesses like dentist offices that had closed because they were not essential, but might have N95 masks, gloves, medical gowns and caps, or anything that could be used on the front lines.
“At first there were three of us,” Fick says. “My mother, Cindi, and my wife, Jenny, started sewing masks and I was making the calls and delivering supplies,” he says. “In a couple of days, we had a few hundred people in the Facebook group, some sewing, and some helping raise awareness.”
Fick, a metal model worker, used his personal credit cards to buy fabric for the masks and paid for gas to deliver whatever he could procure from businesses throughout the Detroit area. When he reached his financial limit, he set up a site for donations.
Now, there are about 1,300 members in the Facebook group, a website with a map to show how his Michigan COVID-19 Relief project is coming and where donations are going, and 50 sewers producing 500 masks daily for workers on the front lines in Detroit, Port Huron, Grand Rapids and more. The donations allow the campaign to supply the protection gear at no cost to those who receive them.
About 6,050 masks have been donated. The Facebook page posts photos and thanks from medical professionals who have received donations. The web site allows visitors to register to help.
“All it takes is a spark to start a fire,” said Fick. “It has been a huge effort. You want to talk about community and solidarity to answer the call in a time of need, that is what we are doing.”
Fick says he stopped counting the hours it takes to keep the project going.
“This virus doesn’t sleep,” Fick says. “I figure I shouldn’t sleep either.”
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