By Ed Karvoski Jr., Culture Editor
Northborough – Members of Northborough’s Vincent F. Picard American Legion Post 234 are accustomed to answering the call of duty. The shortage of personal protective equipment due to the coronavirus pandemic prompted Post 234 members to make and donate face shields for healthcare workers.
Leading the effort is the post’s Commander Rick Currier, an Air Force veteran who served from 1968 to 1972.
“We’ve been doing community service for as long as I can remember,” he said of his colleagues’ civic commitment. “I can’t consider not doing it. Now, we’re helping people who are helping other people.”
Assisting healthcare workers is a personal mission for Currier. He learned how to make shields that cover the entire face via an online tutorial forwarded to him by his daughter, Dr. Danielle Currier, a dentist in New York City.
“The face shield goes from the forehead all the way down to past your chin,” he explained. “If you wear a face mask, then you can put the shield that we’re making over the mask. When dentists extract a tooth, they wear the shield to protect themselves from bodily fluids. They use the shield almost as much as they do the actual face mask.”
Materials needed to make the face shields are sheets of plastic, foam strips that are typically stuffed between an air conditioner and window frame, and glue or double-sided tape. The cost for materials is approximately $5 per shield.
Other American Legion Post 234 members who were quick to offer their help with making face shields are Bill Callaghan, senior vice commander; Matt Edwards, finance officer; and Alan St. Jean, junior vice commander and vice president of American Legion Riders. They’re mindful of physical distancing.
“We’re very careful,” Currier noted. “We make sure that we’re six feet apart and wearing rubber gloves. Also, this gets you out of the house and gives you something to do.”
Within their first few weeks of making face masks, 400 were donated and delivered for healthcare workers and first responders at several venues: St. Vincent’s Hospital, Worcester, 80; two Veterans Administration facilities, Worcester, 75; Holy Trinity Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Worcester, 75; Spectrum Health Systems, Westborough, 50; Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, Burlington, 45; Shrewsbury Nursing and Rehab Center, 25; Northborough Fire Department, 25; and Northborough Police Department, 25.
As a military veteran, Currier recognizes parallels with the coronavirus outbreak and wartime. He considers the tasks of first responders and all healthcare workers akin to soldiers fighting on the front line.
“Except with the virus, you don’t see the enemy coming and that’s probably even scarier,” he said. “I have so much respect for these first responders – many of them are young with spouses and kids. I sometimes cry when I see what they have to go through. And they’re doing it day in day out.”
Tax-deductible donations are being accepted to cover the cost of materials. Checks made payable to “American Legion Post 234,” with “donation for face shields” stated on the memo line, can be mailed to P.O. Box 234 Northborough, MA. 01532. Donations can also be made online at [email protected] According to Post 234’s website, “There are many American Legions that pop up, so please make sure it goes to Post 234.” For updates, visit americanlegionpost234.com.