After we shuttered our three retail locations last week, closed our office on Monday and paused all construction in the field, it seemed we would be unable to help the community until the outbreak ended.

“We have been really concerned that we have had to pause our work, delaying our partnerships with low-income families and pushing our construction projects possibly into next year,” Roger Johnson, Habitat Snohomish’s Executive Director said. “We’ve been trying to brainstorm and think – what other ways can we help our community?” 

That’s when Johnson remembered the N95 masks.

We had built up a small stockpile of 640 N95 particulate respirators, slated to be used as protective gear for construction volunteers in the painting and drywall phases of building homes. These are the same masks that are currently being used in hospitals across the country to protect frontline healthcare personnel from contracting COVID-19 while they treat their patients with the disease.

“After we realized we had these masks, what we had to do with them was a no-brainer.” 

Johnson dropped off the masks at Providence Regional Medical Center’s Colby Campus in Everett late Tuesday. He says hospital staff were incredibly grateful. 

“It’s something small, but I hope it can protect a few more nurses and doctors and help us contain the spread [of the virus],” Johnson said. 

Johnson says the N95 masks will be replaced when they start building again, but the lives of healthcare personnel need to be protected now. He encourages other nonprofits to consider creative ways that they, too, can continue to give back even when their operations are limited or shut down.

“Check what you have in your closets, in your storage. See if you can repurpose vehicles to pick up groceries for people. There’s always something to be done if you look hard enough.”

The outbreak has had a large impact on the nonprofit already. Habitat Snohomish has rescheduled its signature fundraiser event to October and, while still hoping to break ground on their 24-family neighborhood in Everett in September, the organization is bracing for the possibility that no construction work will begin on the site until spring of 2021.

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