Above and Beyond: How UNCOMN Team Members are Supporting the Fight Against COVID-19

Above and Beyond: How UNCOMN Team Members are Supporting the Fight Against Coronavirus

No one has been immune to the impact of the novel coronavirus. As millions of people are encouraged to stay home, not everyone is able to practice social isolation. Medical professionals, food pantries, community resources, service providers, and many more are forced to be at the frontlines of the pandemic, every single day.

At UNCOMN, Cultivating Beauty in the community is one of our prized company values. This means going above and beyond in the service of others, especially during a crisis such as this. Here are just a few stories of UNCOMN team members stepping up and contributing to the fight against COVID-19.

Decades of Military Experience Help Hospitals Protect Staff and Patients

In his 21 years supporting military operations in active-duty and civilian capacities, Michael Schertz, PMP has immense experience in emergency response and disaster preparedness. His training covered operating in nuclear, chemical, and biological environments. He served as an Emergency Management Action Team and Crisis Action Team member. He also previously owned a mold and asbestos remediation company that required him to become an expert on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) best practices.

All of his past experiences put Michael in a position to have an impact when medical services and hospitals had to quickly adapt to a pandemic that very few facilities could see coming. This quick shift was worrisome for Michael. “During this pandemic, my biggest concern is that something may be overlooked in the medical work environment that potentially places doctors, nurses, staff, and patients at undue risk.”

Michael Schertz, PMP, always ready to crack a joke to improve a coworker’s day, is using his crisis expertise to support hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He has been volunteering his time and significant expertise to advise medical facilities of potential risks involving the pandemic and how to effectively address them. From patient entry and triage procedures to staff and patient interaction, there are numerous ways facilities can improve operations to decrease the risk of infection and increase the rate at which patients receive the care they need. While many hospital staff are focused on treating patients, Michael’s advice and insight help to ease the transition into new operations.

Using Art to Provide Support

Operations Analyst Kerry Scherer is no stranger to serving the community. Prior to the pandemic, she spent her free time supporting UNCOMN’s annual Spirit of Christmas event, the Macoupin Art Collective, and Got Your Six Support Dogs. When the pandemic hit, Kerry wasted no time in getting involved.

First, she took on the challenge of giving donations and other contributions to local small businesses, wait staff, and local artists. A talented artist herself, she understands the struggle that many in that community are facing. She has also spent time volunteering for World Central Kitchen, which provides food to people during disasters all over the world.

Kerry wears a homemade mask and stays positive, reminding you that “Today is your Day!”

Leveraging her artistic talents, she now is working with the Macoupin Art Collective to make handmade cards for people in nursing homes who cannot see their families as well as for medical professionals to thank them for their incredible dedication. Her cards provide a unique human touch to those in need during a time when we are forced to remain distant.

Some of the handmade cards Kerry has produced.

 

A Passion for Cars Becomes a Passion to Serve

In addition to creating amazing media content for UNCOMN, Media Specialist Ben Schneider co-runs a nonprofit called Cars and Coffee St. Louis. Cars and Coffee is a gathering of car hobby enthusiasts who meet and share their passion for automobiles. Everyone is invited and there are no memberships or dues required. Whether you have a sentimental rust bucket or a restored passion project; if you’re proud of it, bring it out!

You might be asking yourself, how on earth can a nonprofit that organizes car shows support the COVID response? Well, medical professionals’ ears are burning. Seriously, their ears are in pain. With the need for long hours and constantly wearing surgical masks, medical professionals are suffering from sore and even damaged ears because of the strain a mask’s straps puts on their faces.

Cars and Coffee teamed up with JML Audio of St. Louis to 3D print strong, yet flexible ear savers out of impact-modified clear acrylic. The acrylic is typically used for building and protecting audio systems in cars but they figured out how to repurpose the material to make ear savers.

The savers work by holding the mask straps in place while taking all of the pressure off of the wearer’s ears. More than 500 ear savers have been printed and donated to local hospitals so far.

A fresh sheet of newly printed ear savers. Hundreds were made and donated to local hospitals.

Keeping the Cupboards Fully Stocked for Families During Social Distancing

Business Development Specialist Jordan Durbin spends her workdays writing amazing proposals for new work at UNCOMN. In her free time, she volunteers at the Christian Activity Center (CAC), an afterschool program for kids ages 6-18 in East St. Louis. Before the pandemic, she orchestrated and coached the first-ever organized soccer team at the CAC but with the stay-at-home order, she had to find a new way to provide support.

Jordan Durbin with some of her soccer players from the Christian Activity Center before the pandemic.

 

During the quarantine, Jordan has been shopping for multiple families, bringing them several weeks worth of groceries and personal hygiene products. Bringing food and necessary personal items for those that can’t make it to the store themselves is impressive enough, but Jordan has taken her service a few steps further by assisting elderly neighbors with compromised immune systems. She’s helped them with chores and running errands that could have put those neighbors at risk of exposure to the virus.

 

These are just some of the amazing things UNCOMN staff are doing to support others during this trying time. Learn more about UNCOMN’s dedication to improving the community.

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