By Sheryl Gorchow-Stuart
January 18, 2021
Early in the morning of the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s National Day of Service, planned to coincide with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Shelly W. sent an email suggesting one final change to a scheduled noontime Zoom training presentation. The leadership team for It Takes A Village (ITAV) was ramping up for a huge day. The change, about which Zoom backdrop to use during the training, revealed the level of detail this all-volunteer organization has put into every aspect of its operations to ensure a smooth volunteer experience for the 190 volunteers who had signed up to take part in assembling face shields that would be distributed to safety net hospitals and federally qualified health care centers across the greater San Francisco Bay Area.
No strangers to oversized challenges, the team of Shelly W., Eva C.,Julia C. and Joan L. had overseen the growth of ITAV since its start in March 2020 to include 250 volunteers who have made, refurbished and delivered over 125,000 pieces of PPE to medical and healthcare workers and clinics across the region. The Village had also responded to urgent requests from other communities in need, including the Navajo Nation and clinics in California’s Central Valley.
Today was different. Through the National Day of Service, a whole new group of Villagers had committed to assembling kits of 100 face shields. Together they would make 19,000 face shields, almost as many as ITAV members had assembled over the past 10 months.
When deciding to participate in the Day of Service, ITAV hoped to attract some new volunteers. They didn’t expect 253 responses from across the country before they had to stop taking sign ups. It took one week of pure hustle to make and deliver 190 kits to volunteers across the East Bay, San Francisco and the South Bay.
“Just the usual craziness.” ITAV co-Chair, Julia C. described the preparations. “Shelly is driving all over the Bay Area picking up donated packing cartons, she's enlisted her brother and cousin to join her. Joan secured two car loads of packing cartons. Eva (co-Chair) is managing the whole distribution of hundreds of kits far and wide.” New to the leadership effort was Tess R. “We drafted Tess to help us and she has done an amazing job with the Day of Service.” Christina K., ITAV’s driving coordinator, mapped out complex delivery routes for 20 volunteer drivers.
LTA Research, a Sergey Brin company, donated the pre-cut face shield parts. Five Bay Area moving companies pitched in donations of large packing boxes to hold the assembled face shields, including Chipman Moving & Relocation, One Big Man Moving in San Francisco, Commander Moving in Oakland, Shamrock Moving in South San Francisco, and North Star Moving.
As noon approached, the group logged onto Zoom to find participants already waiting. Training was offered by Jack C., a high school junior. The ITAV youth coordinator had previously worked with 30 volunteers, assembling 2,500 face shields. To train so many at once, Jack prepared two videos, one on assembling the face shields and a second one on packing them for delivery. Now he fielded questions and provided live demos to the 100 people able to get into the Zoom; more were waiting to enter the full space. After the training, Jack stayed on to help later arrivals while some early participants cheerfully demonstrated their newfound skills. One volunteer enthused, “Thanks for the opportunity to serve. Four down and 96 to go!” When finished, the new Villagers will deliver the face shields locally or an ITAV driver-volunteer will shepherd the supplies to area clinics.
Reflecting on the day, Shelly said, “It Takes A Village honors the service and leadership of Martin Luther King Jr., President-elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris, the service of health care workers and the service of our volunteers at It Takes A Village who are making 19,000 face shields on this National Day of Service #dayofservice.”
All hope that some of the Day’s volunteers will stay active in the Village’s efforts and continue to help assemble, sew and deliver PPE while the need remains.