Pathfinder couple impact community through 3-D face shields

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Eugene Oliver
  • 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs

During a global pandemic, here are many examples of people going above and beyond to ensure that the local community is safe.

Joseph Smith, a National Geospatial Intelligence Agency representative based at RAF Molesworth, along with his wife Dawn, has produced over 1,000 face shields for the local community. This equipment has been dispersed to multiple hospitals and medical centers in the local community such as Hinchingbrooke, Addenbrookes, Nightingale, West Suffolk and others.

“As soon as the pandemic started, we were motivated to help,” said Dawn. “When we learned of the personal protective equipment shortage, we contacted a local contractor, James Anderson, who was doing an incredible job providing (personal protective equipment) for National Health Service Frontliners near his home. He was very generous with information and support, and we felt inspired to do the same for our community.”

Once Joseph and Dawn identified the need for PPE in their community they started gathering the necessary equipment to meet the ever-growing demand.

“We purchased a 3D printer and started testing various models for face shields that were NHS compliant with an ability to produce in large quantities,” said Smith. “At the time, no one could foresee the demand as great as it was. Within a week of printing and assembling, we were crowdsourcing to purchase more printers and materials as orders by the 100s were coming in. “We started providing for not just area hospitals and surgeries,  but for essential and key workers and soon began shipping to areas in Scotland, Isle of Man and much of London.”

The couple has also secured a grant from their local council so they can continue to mass produce PPE for the community. “Our friend had encouraged us to submit a proposal to the mayor and the town council requesting a grant,” said Dawn. “We weren’t sure at first, because while we needed more printers and materials, we didn’t want to take local money away from those who may need it more than us. We spoke with the council by zoom, and received unanimous approval. This was an incredible honor to feel validated and supported by our community and government members.”

The couple applauded the council’s support which has given them the opportunity to help the local community at a much larger scale.

“They’ve not just provided social media and community support,” said Joseph. “They generously approved a £3,000 grant to help strengthen our reach. Because of them, we doubled our output putting more face shields in the hands of frontliners with an immediate need faster than we ever could. “In the middle of a crisis, they chose an American couple to back which meant a great deal to us.”

During these unprecedented times it’s people like the Smiths that remind us of the value and personal gratification that come when you help out your local community.

“It feels wonderful to serve, and yet our job is not done,” said Dawn. “It’s bittersweet because if we are still busy, people are still in need. We’ve now surpassed 1,000 face coverings and we will continue producing until the community is covered. “Our military community here is compassionate and strong, and everyone at one point or another has done something to help; this was just our contribution because we had the means, community support, time and ability.”