COVID-19 - September 1, 2020
by Amanda Ranowsky
Five local high schoolers are using their creative talents to give back to their community. What started as a small project to help a family friend has blossomed into a full-scale production. These young innovators have found a way to provide personal protective equipment that has helped many throughout Northern Virginia.
Juniors Ethan Carr, Soloman Ralston, Caleb Bock and Max Lawson, along with sophomore Aidan Patterson – all students at Colgan High School in Prince William County – routinely collaborate to create face shields and mask extenders using their personal 3D printers.
The venture began when a friend to several of the boys, Dr. Babur Lateef, asked them to make supplies for his practice. Dr. Lateef is School Board Chairman for Prince William County and lead practitioner at Advanced Ophthalmology in Woodbridge, Virginia.
“We started helping him,” said Lawson, “and then other people asked [for our help] after they saw what we did for him.” Soon, Lawson and his friends were making face shields and mask extenders for others, including Goodwin House.
All the boys have their own 3D printers. For this project, they print the parts separately, then gather together to assemble them. Before they began making these protective gear items, they needed a plan.
The five friends started by using designs they’d found online. They quickly realized they would have to make their own modifications.
“The first design we made required glue, said Carr. “That wasn’t really ideal, because the parts were falling off and the glue wasn’t sticking well. One of our friends changed the designs for us so that we didn’t need glue, and made it way easier.”
The new design makes it easier to assemble, and is adjustable for the user.
Once they realized they had a good design that worked well, they began reaching out to clinics, hospitals and senior living communities to see if they needed shields.
“My grandma lives in an assisted living place,” said Patterson, “so we started making supplies for her place as well. That’s how we got started making supplies for more assisted living places and for other healthcare workers.”
Through an extended network of family and friends, they learned about Goodwin House and reached out to see if they could contribute. In April 2020, they donated 50 face shields to the Goodwin House supply.
From mid-March, when the project began, through late August, they have created and donated at least 500 face shields and more than 1,000 mask extenders.
“We plan to go on until people stop asking us to help them,” said Lawson. “As long as there’s a need,” Patterson chimed in.
“As school starts in September, I think we’re going to start printing the shields for schools so that some of the people going into school are safer,” said Patterson. They already made some shields for Carr’s aunt, who is a teacher.
“I enjoy knowing that I’m helping people out, keeping them safe and making our community better,” said Lawson.
It’s a sentiment that all of the boys share, one that has kept them engaged in their community while being socially distanced. “I think it makes us all feel good, because we’re making an impact somewhere and helping people in need,” said Patterson.
“Amidst a global pandemic, we are so inspired by these young innovators to give of their time and talent to help keep others safe,” said Lindsay Hutter, chief strategy & marketing officer for GHI. “They embody the best of the American spirit and sense of regard for the common good.”
As Marketing & Communications Specialist, Amanda Ranowsky partners with colleagues throughout Goodwin House to tell our stories and raise brand awareness. From printed collateral to digital marketing, Amanda covers many bases. Before joining GHI, Amanda worked for a small, family-owned business where she gained experience in content marketing. Amanda’s creative expression extends beyond the office. She is an active member of community theater and chorus groups.