The Northwest Metro Atlanta Habitat for Humanity is giving back to public health employees who are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
The organization, which helps the less fortunate obtain homes in Cobb, Douglas and Paulding counties, on Wednesday donated 1,473 N95 face masks to the Cobb & Douglas Public Health Department.
The N95 masks are tight-fitting respirators that filter out at least 95% of particles in the air, including bacteria and viruses. They are recommended only for healthcare workers and have been in extremely short supply due to nationwide demand.
Jessica Gill, CEO of the Metro Habitat branch, said volunteers with the nonprofit use the masks when they are building homes.
Since staff and volunteers are not working on home construction sites, Gill said the organization began looking through its storage to see what it could part with.
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“We had more than we even realized,” Gill said. “For our community to be healthy, people on the front lines have to be healthy and we can’t do anything as an organization without first responders having what they need. So it was a no-brainer.”
Valerie Crow, a spokeswoman with the Cobb & Douglas Public Health Department, said the agency is “grateful” for the donation.
She said they were passed on to local fire departments, EMS and clinical care facilities that were in short supply of these masks.
“It is great to see the community partnerships come together during this public health emergency,” Crow said. “Again, it was very much appreciated and along with N95 masks, any donation of new, packaged PPE (personal protective equipment) would be appreciated and will go to good use with our public safety and health care partners.”
The majority of Habitat volunteers are older than 60, which is a population that can become more seriously ill from the coronavirus. Because the charity works with local school students for many of its projects, the organization has suspended its work due to the pandemic, Gill said.
The CEO also said some Habitat families are also struggling to pay their mortgages because they have lost their jobs due to economic fallout of the pandemic. She said the charity will honor the 60-day reprieve issued March 18 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to suspend evictions and foreclosures.
“This will be a reciprocal (effect) for months,” she said of the pandemic’s impact on the organizations to build homes and for their families to make ends meet.
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