South Jordan-based nonprofit donates 14,000 masksJun 15, 2020 12:55PM ● By Libby Allnatt
Libby Allnatt | [email protected]
A South Jordan organization is working to get masks to people who need them amid the coronavirus pandemic.
WHOlives is a nonprofit with a focus on bringing sustainable water solutions to developing countries. ICare Heroes, a program run and supported by WHOlives, has donated more than 14,000 masks in Utah, California, Arizona, Idaho and Georgia with a goal of supplying 100,000 more to help combat the spread of COVID-19.
John Renouard, the founder of WHOlives, said the project focuses on getting the equipment to people who may face challenges getting the supplies they need.
“What we found when we were looking at the need was that if you’re a big company, you had ways to get these masks,” he said. “If you’re smaller or a first responder, it was very difficult for those people to get masks. We focused on those smaller groups that didn’t have the purchasing power of large hospitals.”
That includes places like fire stations, pharmacies and care facilities. One way facilities in need can request supplies is by filling out a form using a link on the iCare Heroes GoFundMe page.
Renouard said many requests come from individuals seeking supplies not for themselves but for someone else.
“The people actually in need are hesitant to call,” he said. “All the calls we got are people who knew that somebody was in need. We would get calls from the neighbor who said, my neighbor works at the pharmacy, and I know that none are protected. It comes from somebody who knew somebody who was in need.”
The masks come from manufacturing facilities in China, Turkey and Mexico. Renouard said the work connections of a family friend in California helped them procure the masks to distribute.
“My friend in California, their company has been importing from China and Mexico and Turkey, several different countries, for over 10 years,” Renouard said. “When this hit, no one could get supplies. We were able to because of the 10 years of connections with manufacturing companies.”
Renouard said people can help by donating so they can replenish the masks they’ve already donated, as well as letting them know what facilities are in need of masks. He said they try to prioritize based on the likelihood of being in contact with somebody who has COVID-19, for example, first responders going on calls to facilities or homes that might have COVID-19 patients.
“The amount that we’re able to get out, it changes daily, certainly weekly,” Renouard said. “But we can get them pretty quick if we have the order and the funds.”
To raise awareness of the need, iCare Heroes launched a social media campaign called the #leanonmechallenge in which users sing their renditions of “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers.
Renouard said they always strive to social distance when they drop off the masks.