SPR Staff Rallies for Critical Mask-Making Project

One morning in early April, as the spread of the coronavirus and the shortage of supplies for health care workers continued to be a serious concern, Seattle Parks and Recreation employee Drew Whitman heard that a group his daughter belongs to was looking for swim goggle donations, of all things, for a virus-related emergency project. The group needed to find straps for five hundred masks that had been printed with a 3D printer, and fast. Once furnished with straps, the masks could be rushed to medical workers at Harborview Medical Center.

Drew reached out to SPR Aquatics Manager Mike Plympton and asked for permission to collect all the swim goggles that had been left in the lost and found boxes at Seattle’s swimming pools. Mike gave the ok, and the word went out to all the pool coordinators to gather whatever they had. Drew also reached out to the community through his daughter’s Facebook page and the social media site NextDoor, asking people to drop off their unwanted goggles in a bin outside the nearest pool facility.

The response was amazing; within 72 hours Drew far surpassed his goal of 500 goggles. He spent several hours removing straps from the old goggles and then handed them off to the group, who attached them to the new masks and got them to Harborview. “I wanted to help wherever I could, and that was an opportunity I had access to,” says Drew. “It was a prime example of the saying ‘It takes a village.’”