If you read the most recent ETP Newsletter (inbox March 28) you noticed that there are several examples in the Great Lakes Bay Region of high level response to the COVID-19 crisis. I want to acknowledge the great efforts being made on the west side of the region as well.

I wrote previously hinting at the potential for a region that can nearly sustain itself. The rapid ability to use critical thinking along with technological tools and skills to retool highlights this potential. If we can quickly reconfigure machinery to produce PPE and medical equipment it seems that we could do the same if we needed a cannery, a meat-packing plant, or a produce our own toilet paper and sanitizer!

With COVID-19 having become a predominant issue in the region, several individuals and businesses have found ways to help replenish the supply of necessary PPE for front-line and essential workers. “(ETP Newsletter, May, 2020)

Well Done, Harrison Robotics! Although schools shut down early in March, the students on the Harrison Stingers on Steel Robotics team started messaging their coach about the possibility of using the schools technology to produce protective equipment.

“Kevin Smalley, the lead mentor for the Harrison Stingers of Steel Robotics Team and the Technology Coordinator at the Clare/Gladwin I.S.D. says, “There was a big call, I kept seeing it on social media and our school principal kept seeing it on social media. So when the kids started messaging me and bringing it up as well, we decided it was time to act. The school had several 3D printers for their S.T.E.M. department so we have put all those to good use.” (https://www.9and10news.com/2020/04/22/harrison-stingers-of-steel-robotics-team-makes-n95-masks-with-3d-printers/ )

The plan developed into production for N95 masks for use in local hospitals. Students were not able to go to the school to help with production but they did round up materials and supplies to drop off at the school.

Good teamwork at GI-TEC in Mt. Pleasant! The GI-TEC students at Mt. Pleasant spent some of their first trimester building 3D printers in class. That work became the foundation Andrew Keson, M.A., Electronics teacher at GI-TEC, used for mask production. Those masks were directed to local use in Isabella County.

Dr. Jan Amsterburg, Gratiot Isabella Regional Service District Superintendent spoke with the Morning Sun about the problem solving in a crisis aspect, “We can build on this experience with the students as we move forward with our CTE programs. This is a ‘teachable moment” where a school learning experience interacts with a ‘real life’ need,” Amsterburg added. “While I sincerely hope that there won’t be a repeat of this virus, if there is, we will be even more ready the next time. Thanks to our talented GI-TEC staff, we now know how to do this.”

( https://www.themorningsun.com/news/gi-tec-students-build-printers-used-for-covid-19-face-masks/article_2589335c-8c8f-11ea-ad22-9ba6275ed596.html )

I would like to think that these specialized CTE programs could, and would, look for ways to localize solutions to any crisis.

Always ready to serve at Avalon and Tahoe! When the news was plastered with the lack of PPE for frontline workers and manufacturers temporarily shut down, leaders at Avalon and Tahoe of Alma put out a call for VOLUNTEERS to sew masks.

Avalon employs sewers as part of their workforce building pontoons. Avalon furnished and cut the material at the plant and some of their sewers volunteered to do the hand work at home. The goal was to produce 5000 masks to be used by local healthcare providers, first responders, police officers and firefighters.

There are so many examples of “gifting” those frontline essential workers just to say, “Thank you for being there for all of us.” M

Three Rivers Corporation partnered with Arnold Center, Inc. to make and deliver 2000 protective face shields. TRC also donated 60 gallons of hand sanitizer to Midland County Jail and again in a partnership, joined Pizza Sam’s to deliver pizzas to MidMichigan Health Care Workers.

Businesses that do not have the capacity to produce equipment have still managed to support the efforts of essential workers. I have a niece who works for McLaren Central Michigan and her Facebook page was alive with the generosity shown to essential healthcare workers. Mercantile Bank of Michigan gifted backpacks to McLaren staff along with a letter to the “Heroes . . . saluting one of the most heroic workforces that has been serving our family and friends during the COVID-19 pandemic . . .”

The General Agency donated gift cards to the front line workers at McLaren. Clif Bar donated hundreds of treats and Hudsonville Ice Cream provided nearly 600 pints of ice cream! Then there is the list of businesses who very early on went into their stashes to get out supplies such as masks and gloves to deliver to McLaren: McDonalds, Max & Emily’s Eatery, Domino’s Pizza of Mt. Pleasant, Pisanello’s Pizza, Mid Mitten Nutrition, Job-Bob Korean REstaurant, Menards, Sherwin Williams, CMU Biology Department!

I am sure there are so many more stories of how our community has rewritten their own history during this time. When times are tough, some are able to give and give and give. As times get even tougher we need to remember these generosities and give back the support of our business when we shop, and when we vote this summer and in the fall!