Picture this: an organization that didn’t exist before mid-March 2020 has made personal protection equipment (PPE) for 25,000 people to protect them from COVID-19. That’s the impact so far of Face Gear Friday, an all-volunteer group that has worked tirelessly to provide PPE for New York City area first responders, healthcare workers, hospitals and labor unions.
Face Gear Friday teams with businesses and individuals to machine manufacture, hand assemble and deliver face masks and face shields. “About 50 volunteers have contributed to this effort in one way or another,” said Zach Badalucco, the organization’s founder.
Like thousands of employees in New York City and millions across the U.S., Zach was laid off from his job due to COVID-19 stay-at-home government orders. While he expects to return to his position as Property Master for Warner Bros. Entertainment, where he purchases and manages props for CBS television productions, his time today is filled making PPE.
“Zach is very entrepreneurial,” said Mike Lisa President of national health & welfare benefits broker, Corporate Synergies, and a family friend of Zach’s. “He was laid off from his job and wanted to do something to relieve the PPE shortage that threatens the health of New York’s healthcare workers. He used his professional expertise in prop-making and his extensive network to tackle the problem.”
Zach started a face shield production line with a 3D printer in his garage. As word got out, orders started pouring in. To hasten production and widen distribution, he reached out to his connections through his labor union, Local 52, which represents technicians, artisans and craft people in the entertainment industry. He also needed money for supplies and created a GoFundMe page.
Face Shield Friday raised enough money to partner with Brandon Spurlin, President of commercial printer Quantum Visual Imaging in Long Island City, New York. Quantum specializes in the use of components such as vinyl, a crucial part of face shields.
“As a result of the GoFundMe campaign, we went from using razor blades and scissors to laser-cutting foam and having access to Quantum Visual Imaging’s CNC machine to cut the vinyl shields,” Zach said. A CNC (also known as a computer numerical control machine) is a computer-controlled precision tool that makes repeated, accurate cuts on materials.
Zach also marshaled his network of associates and friends to get the PPE equipment into the hands of first responders, frontline healthcare workers, hospitals and others. Since the coronavirus crisis first exploded in the area in early March, Mike Lisa has made 10 deliveries of face shields, including to three of his company’s healthcare clients. Corporate Synergies’ New York Regional Senior Vice President Steven Schwartz also stepped up to deliver boxes of PPE.
Face Gear Friday’s PPE recipients include healthcare providers in the New York City area.
They include New Rochelle Hospital, Danbury Hospital, White Plains Hospital, Methodist Church Park Slope, SUNY Downstate Hospital, Maimonides Medical Center, Fire Department of New York, CareMount Medical Group, Mount Sinai South Nassau, New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Glen Cove Hospital, Westchester Community Opportunity Program – WestCOP, the Metropolitan Health Center and labor unions.
“We will keep making and delivering PPE for as long as we receive orders, “ said Zach, who is working full-time on the project, but receives no income.
Mike expresses respect for Zach’s efforts to do something about the ongoing PPE shortage in New York amid the COVID-19 crisis. “People like Zach and the others who are involved in Face Gear Friday are making a real difference in the lives of our first responders,” Mike said. “The reaction of the people who receive PPE supplies has been amazing. It’s like you’re giving them life when you hand over the equipment. As long as the coronavirus threat continues and Face Gear Friday produces PPE, we’ll keep on making deliveries.”