Associates Help in Time of Crisis

When Honda of America Mfg. associate Alicia Eleyet decided to help out during the COVID-19 pandemic, she was thinking of her favorite Mr. Rogers quote: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

In the face of a global crisis, Honda associates have been those helpers at work and in their communities. While Honda has made both monetary and in-kind donations, even going so far as to produce PPE, some associates have used their personal time to help.

Eleyet is one of those helpers at Honda, and has sewn more than 260 face masks, donating them to anyone in need. “I saw how a lot of nursing staff wasn’t able to get the equipment they need because people were buying up all the masks,” she said.

Eleyet’s masks have gone to people in her community and healthcare workers. She even sewed PPE with a special material for a group of Ohio nurses who went to New York to help out when the state was in dire need. “They love horses, so someone sent me horse material and I made them masks and scrub caps. I think it helped lift their spirits a bit.”

Honda Manufacturing of Indiana (HMIN) associate Julia Dodson also put her sewing skills to work. “Our management team mentioned wanting some face masks for associates before furlough and I had an old sewing machine collecting dust in the back of my closet,” she said. “It seemed like the perfect project.”

Dodson has outfitted 80 HMIN associates and 20 friends and family with masks, also donating 50 masks to her sister-in-law who works in the healthcare industry. Fellow HMIN associate Cameron Curry has done his part to help as well, printing ear savers.

“I started printing them with a buddy of mine with a 3D printer at home for friends and family in the medical field who are wearing masks 10 or 12 hours a day,” he said. “When we started coming back to work at the plant and found out we would have to wear masks, I wanted to try to get them out here as well.”

Utilizing 3D printers in his Product Engineering department, Curry has produced about 100 ear savers for associates. “I have empathy for people who have to wear masks all day every day,” he said. “I have the benefit of working from home a few days a week, but really wanted to provide a little relief for people on the line who have to wear masks all day.”

American Honda associate Mat Schwab, has also utilized 3D printing to help out, purchasing a second 3D printer and using it to make face shields.

“I made several face shields and posted examples on social media,” he said. “I have friends in the healthcare profession contact me requesting them for their place of employment. The majority of face shields were donated to hospitals, nursing homes, dental offices and other healthcare facilities.”

Schwab even recruited his brother in northern Ohio and together they have donated more than 320 face shields to people across the country.

“My profession is safety and one of the controls we rely on to protect people is PPE,” he said. “A shortage of PPE is one of the worst conditions you can have. Knowing that I could make a small impact made me want to step up and help.”

Although he didn’t have much experience, Honda R&D Americas (HRA) associate John Barlow put his 3D printer to use making ear savers as well. Barlow has experimented with several different designs, and he has even purchased a couple more 3D printers that will expand his printing capabilities while allowing him to keep the at-home ear-saver operation going.

“After I started printing these ear savers, it occurred to me that not everyone has access to a mask, cannot buy one or maybe cannot even afford one,” he said. “So this led me to another idea: printing clips that would allow you to use any new or old t-shirt to make your own homemade mask.”

Barlow packaged the clips in kits with instructions and has given them away upon request. So far he’s printed more than 500 ear savers and has shipped them across the country, donated them to nursing homes, hospitals, the local grocery store and post office, and even set a basket of them out on his doorstep for delivery people.

“I like to help people however I can,” he said, adding that he’s created his own online store with all proceeds going to feed people in need. “So many people need help during these trying times, and I feel like those of us who are fortunate enough to be in a more secure position should do what we can to help, even if the things we do seem small in the grand scheme of things.”

Even though helpers such as Barlow may consider their contributions small, their actions are big to others – especially those on the receiving end. Truly these helpers and others who choose to step up are what will get us through this pandemic together.

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