Everyday Heroes: SRDS Offers Assistance in the Fight to Stop the Spread of COVID-19

Everyday Heroes: SRDS Offers Assistance in the Fight to Stop the Spread of COVID-19
Gretchen Lee

When times are tough, heroes emerge. We all know someone who is making a difference right now as we live through these unprecedented times, including some of our own SRDS faculty, staff and families. Here is one such story.

In between teaching, troubleshooting online learning and being a wife and mother to three sons, Director of Technology, Laura Hollis has been actively helping where she can by producing and delivering PPE to healthcare workers. Middle school parent Beatrice Burgis brought the idea to the attention of the SRDS administrative team while the school was on spring break, but preparing for remote learning. She had seen a news story about citizens with 3D printers using them to produce PPE and thought it would be a great initiative for SRDS to be a part of.

Ms. Hollis utilized her resources to identify some reliable vendors where foam strips, elastic and plastic sheets for assembly could be ordered. They found the directions and STL (an abbreviation of stereolithography, a file format native to the CAD software created by 3D Systems files) for printing the visor parts and ear savers (used to 'save ears' from the elastic bands on face masks) on the Budmen Industries website. The Budmen Industries website includes links to register for those who NEED shields, as well as to PRODUCE shields. She registered on the production side and was matched up with several local doctors.

Materials were ordered online and took about two weeks for delivery. Since no one is on campus for the remainder of the year, 3D printers and filament were transported from the SRDS campus to homes to help facilitate the production of the items. Laura, Niles Patel, Assoc. Director of Network Infrastructure and Joanne Ciuccio, Graphic Arts teacher, worked to 3D print the visors (each takes two hours), and ear savers (20 minutes each), watching that the filament didn’t tangle or snap as they printed. After they were printed, each item was “cleaned up” by removing the extra plastic, sanding them down and scraping off the raft material. Some of the ear savers were even custom-designed with the words "Love" and "Hope" or a heart design. Then with the help of her husband and three sons, individual bags were assembled that included a face shield and ear savers with brief directions and a photo of how they should appear after assembly, gloves and a hand written note of appreciation including the special phrase, "Made with love.” Other SRDS families and friends stepped up to help in the effort by donating time and resources as well.

The first ten sets went to Dr. Manaf Saker, a local oral surgeon, who responded in a text, saying, “Thank you so much; so kind of you to take the time to make the shields. I love the card and what you wrote. It means a lot!” Two weeks later, another ten sets were sent to Dr. Vito Modugno, another local oral surgeon who left a voice mail with Ms. Hollis expressing his deepest gratitude for the PPE. Both doctors were conducting surgeries in their local practices in order to avoid sending patients to Valley Hospital. In addition, shields and ear savers were delivered to some of our SRDS parents including Dr. Amit Trivedi (bariatric surgeon) and Dr. Tanisha Mathur (rheumatologist). A box full of visor shields and ear savers were also hand delivered by Ms. Hollis to David Bohan, VP and Chief Development Officer at Valley Health Systems and uncle to SRDS Upper School student, Alex Slomin. Ear savers have also been sent to Temple Hospital in Philadelphia, PA, the VA Hospital in the Bronx, and to Keisha Foley, (CT scan technologist) at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Montvale, who said, "Thank you so much for doing them; they truly ARE ear savers!" 

The SRDS mission statement says: "We inspire each child to achieve personal and academic excellence and to become a caring and ethical contributor to society." Our faculty continue to lead the way as they inspire students by their own personal examples.