For Ryan M. Dempsey, the adage that “one thing leads to another” has proven very true these last couple of weeks.
It all started for Dempsey and his company, Long Island-based East End Group, with the donation of 10,000 N95 masks to hospitals and healthcare organizations battling COVID-19 in and around NYC. He and other employees has family working in healthcare, and they've pushed snow for healthcare clients, as well. So, it wasn’t difficult to find sources that needed N95 masks. However, it soon became evident this was just a drop in the bucket in meeting the local healthcare community’s need for personal protective equipment (PPE).
Those first 10,000 masks were literally gone in an instant, says the managing partner of the facilities management company. Dempsey footed the bill for four more rounds of masks, totaling 62,000.
As word circulated the requests for donations came pouring in from email and social media. And need grew from beyond masks to face shields, gowns, hand sanitizer and gloves, as well as chemical disinfectants. As requests mounted, so did the complexity of the situation.
“The biggest thing is that we’ve been extremely busy at this time with our normal services,” he says. “[Donating PPE] was a great thing, but it’d almost turned into a full-time job.”
That’s when a client – a facility that provides healthcare to the homeless in NYC – reached out and connected Dempsey with his son, a Cornell grad looking for a way to help. That person had connections to three other Cornell students and graduates, as well as one from UC Santa Barbara and one from Carnegie Mellon. Together, they developed a website to serve as a more equitable means of distribution of PPE and medical supplies.
“So, they built this website – savethefrontline.org – and wanted to know if we wanted to partner together on it,” he says. “It all grew from there and the site just went live last week.”
According to Dempsey, the site functions as a clearing house between those who need PPE supplies and those who have them and want to donate, sell, or fund the purchase of more supplies. By next week, developers hope to have an interactive map available to track where the donations went and where the requests are coming from, as well as identify “hot zones” where PPEs are needed the most.
Through this experience, Dempsey has been touched by peoples’ appreciation for the donations and assistance. To date, Dempsey estimates he’s funded nearly $300,000 worth of PPEs donated to the community, and they’ve taken in about $25,000 in donations.
“It’s not helping out a friend, it’s helping out a complete stranger who is so appreciative,” he says. “We’ve had hundreds of people come to the office to pick up supplies, and every single one of them, you’d thought I was handing them a winning lottery ticket ... and I was just handing them a box of 10 masks.
“We’ve been lucky through this,” Dempsey says. “We’ve been busy and remained profitable. So, we’ll keep doing what we can. Obviously, I’m just one person from one company … So, if you’re doing well [during a time like this], then you should be giving back.”
Mike Zawacki is Snow Magazine's editor. We want to hear how you've been giving back to your communities during the Covid-19 pandemic. Reach out via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.