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At Room & Board, several of our coworkers have risen to the challenge and are giving back to their colleagues and communities during COVID-19. We applaud them and are inspired by their efforts.

Helping health care heroes

The news of shortages of Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) for health care workers made two Room & Board staff members coordinate a collection drive in March.  SAP Developer Kathi Kones had a “lightning bolt moment” when she realized she had items to donate in her workshop. She put out a call to staff to check if they had PPE to donate.

Vendor & Category Manager Elizabeth Haugen joined in and coordinated the drop-off of donated masks from Room & Board staff members. As Kathi said, “Awareness, coordination and logistics made this possible.”

Vendor & Category Manager Elizabeth Haugen

Innovation brings comfort

One Room & Board staff member is making a difference for health care providers through innovation.

Earlier this year, Java Developer Jordan Price purchased a 3D printer for his family for fun projects. Shortly after the pandemic began, Jordan saw an article about people who used their 3D printers to print “ear savers” for health care workers. An ear saver is a small strap that connects the ear loops of a medical mask behind the head, reducing pressure on the ears.

Jordan found 3D models online and got to work. He connected with colleague and User Interface Developer Jake Twite, after recalling that Jake’s girlfriend, Cass, is a nurse.

With feedback from Cass, Jordan designed his own 3D model that allowed shorter print times and larger batch sizes. Jordan has printed out 70 straps for Cass’ coworkers. He has also donated straps to others who need them. He’s produced nearly 200 in all.

Ear saver straps

Jordan uses Jake’s motto of “Stay Awesome” on the straps. Jordan says it’s a way of giving back to healthcare workers. “In thinking about the hard work, long hours and how care providers are putting themselves at risk on the front lines, this slogan seemed perfect to add to the design,” says Jordan.

Sewing skills

After the CDC recommended all Americans wear a non-medical grade mask to protect themselves, Customer Care Design Associate Sandy Northberg put her skills to work. “I’ve been sewing forever,” says Sandy.

An avid quilter, Sandy knew her stash of fabric would be perfect for masks. But she was without one key piece for the project – elastic. Leadership Associate Sarah Diedrich came to the rescue and sent Sandy a large spool of elastic and additional fabric.

Sandy has made more than 150 masks so far. She’s offered up masks to her colleagues and delivered a batch of masks to the Minnesota warehouse team.

Design Associate Dylan Gagner 

Besides giving back by sharing masks with colleagues, friends and family, she’s sewing another batch for police department families in her hometown.

Sandy says the project keeps her connected with her community, even while practicing social distancing. “It makes me realize how important community is,” says Sandy. “We’re all connected and we can all contribute in a small way.”

A donation that saves lives

One important way we can give back is by donating blood. Blood centers are experiencing shortages because many blood drives are connected to schools and businesses that are now closed. The need for blood, however, continues for many reasons unrelated to COVID-19.

Room & Board Marketing Coordinator Anne Murphy donated blood in April, after reading an article that listed ways to give back during this pandemic. “It felt like a simple and meaningful way to do a little good,” says Anne.

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