Submitted by Rene Carroll
In times of great need, we often find ways to help in unexpected places. Margaret Rice, Washougal School District Career and Technical Director, heard about the critical need for personal protective equipment (PPE) for local hospitals, and she knew just where to look.
“I know I have boxes of gloves, masks and eye protection sitting in my classrooms not being used that could be of assistance to them,” said Rice. “Our medical professionals are on the front lines working hard to help the sick, while trying to stay well themselves with supplies of PPE dwindling.” These items are used when instructing students in Health Sciences and other Career and Technical Education classes. Some of these classes include: Medical Detectives, Medical Careers & Terminology, BioMedical Anatomy & Physiology, and even Woods Technology and Visual Arts.
After receiving the green light from WSD Superintendent Mary Templeton and Business Manager Kris Grindy, both stating that “it seems like the right thing to do during this crisis,” Rice reached out to Rene Del Donno, Legacy Health Logistics and Materials Manager at Salmon Creek Medical Center who has been working with the Emergency Operations Center to address this challenge. He confirmed that the situation is dire.
A list of needed items and donation delivery was coordinated with Rice by Tamara Uppendahl, Legacy Health VP of Philanthropy Services. According to Uppendahl, needed items included Nitrile gloves, isolation gowns, isolation masks, N95 masks, P95 masks and dust masks.
The next step for Rice was contacting her regional CTE peers to see if they were willing and able to donate their programs’ PPE to these medical centers. “It was just a ‘Hey, this is what I am going to do, would you like to be a part of it,’” Rice said. “I received an almost immediate positive response.”
A shareable spreadsheet was created to log the inventory each district was willing to donate. CTE Directors Mark Wreath, Vancouver Public School and Tiffany Gould, Ridgefield School District have been the first to step up to help.
Dr. Nathan McCann, Ridgefield School District Superintendent, immediately reached out to Rice to extend his appreciation for making this donation possible. McCann said, “I’m very proud to see our school districts coming together to support the amazing health care professionals in Clark County. Together, we will get through this and come out stronger.”
The first wave of supplies was delivered on Friday, March 20 by Rice, Wreath and Gould. “Between our three districts alone, we were able to contribute 166 pairs of protective eyewear, 141 boxes of Nitrile gloves, 1930 masks of various types, 13 bottles of hand sanitizer, and 2 boxes of tech wipes” said Rice.
“The response from our teachers was amazing,” said Gould. “Every teacher that was contacted had supplies ready within hours. Additional teachers have since offered to donate materials and we are now working on another donation.”
Liam Contino, Development Coordinator for Legacy Health Office of Philanthropy and Community Engagement, was at the receiving center and shared that his job has changed through all of this. “Usually we are planning fundraising events and direct mail appeals, but with the need of supplies and increase in donations coming in, they needed people to be here to accept them,” he said. “We are so grateful that these supplies arrived.”
To expand the reach of this idea, Wreath, who is also the Southwest lead for WACTA (Washington Association for Career & Technical Administrators) the state CTE administrators’ organization, encouraged that this message be sent out statewide suggesting other school districts consider making similar donations locally.
“I am grateful for the strong partnerships that we have built in our community,” said Templeton. “During these times of great need, these partnerships are critical for as we work together to make sure our community is healthy and safe. Although there are significant challenges as we face this virus, there are also significant opportunities for us to shine together and ‘lean in’ to the service of others.”
“Our businesses and communities are so supportive of the Career and Technical Education programs in our respective districts,” said Wreath. “So it is a privilege to be able to give back in a small way during this time of tremendous need.”
Gould adds with a smile, “We have to lean on each other, while keeping our social distance because the way we’re getting through this is together.”
If you have PPE supplies that could help our local medical professionals, contact the Legacy Health Office of Philanthropy and Community Engagement at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 503-415-4700 for more information.