Faces of the Fight

Faces in the fight shutterstockgraphic

by Tony Moore

The COVID-19 pandemic has saturated everyone’s attention for months. It’s the reality we’ve been living day in and day out, behind closed doors, as it runs 24/7 on every screen in the house. It’s exhausting to even think about it, let alone keep dealing with it and the way it’s changed, and ended, people’s lives. There’s probably something called pandemic fatigue, and if there is, each of us is likely feeling it in our own way. And all those first responders and people on the front lines and volunteers must be feeling it more than anyone.

But as we also see on every screen in the house, those people aren’t stopping. They’re working through that exhaustion—mental and physical—to help others, whether it’s through their jobs or through an altruistic drive to make the world a better place.  And it seems like they won’t stop until the virus does. Among them are countless Dickinsonians. 

“The project—which didn’t exist prior to COVID-19 taking hold in our local community—took three days to go from an idea to a reality, providing healthy, freshly prepared meals to any resident who may have a need—regardless of income. We’ve made a commitment to doing this as long as the crisis continues and stay-at-home restrictions are in place.”

Phil Goropoulos ’97, president of CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health

Consuming images and stories of daily life in a hospital emergency department has become a part of everyone else’s daily life over the past few months. But for Michelle Reina ’05, a doctor in southern Oregon, it’s all been very personal. Read her story.

“There is so much we can learn from the DIY culture. It may not replace large-scale manufacturing, but it can play an urgent role locally in supporting our community in our hour of need.”

Chris Sharples ’87, founder and principal, SHoP Architects, whose firm optimized its design equipment to 3D-print personal protective equipment for New York’s Weill Cornell Medicine

“I think of our health systems as heroes, and we see our job as being heroes helping heroes, and we’re proud of that.”

—Judy Greenfield Faulkner ’65, founder and CEO of Epic Systems, in a May 12 interview with CNBC’s Bertha Coombs at the network’s annual “Healthy Returns” Summit. The company has many COVID-related initiatives underway, from telehealth and applications of artificial intelligence to investigating possible treatments and undertaking studies on whether patients can get the virus more than once. 

When something like the COVID-19 pandemic strikes, everyone has to adapt—and quickly. For individuals, it comes down to social distancing, wearing face coverings and often just being smart about what you do and where you go. For businesses, though, the range of steps needed to ensure the safety of possibly thousands of employees and the satisfaction of customers is vast. Read how Mike Davi '95, senior director of digital strategy and pperations at Anthem Healthcare, and Spyro Karetsos '96, chief risk officer at TD Ameritrade, helped their organizations adapt.

“The community leaders in CAN are dedicated and compassionate people from a cross section of community life, and the work we have accomplished together is humbling. … If every community could unite like this, drawing on our many talents, skills and goodwill, we would solve a lot of challenges.”

—Dickinson President Margee Ensign, commenting on the Pennsylvania Humanities Council honoring Carlisle’s Community Action Network, founded by Ensign, for its community service during the health crisis 

“There are so many bottlenecks in our ability to fight this pandemic, many of which you would never expect. Who knew there wouldn’t be enough hand sanitizer? And who would’ve thought that once distilleries stepped in to fill the gap there would suddenly be a shortage of small-format packaging? We’re fortunate to have the largest production capacity in the region, so we’re now producing more than is needed by our local hospital system and are looking into how we can distribute to other areas in need.”

—Andy Keller ’06, who converted his Maryland-based Sagamore Spirit distillery into a handsanitizer operation in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic 

“Employees in our manufacturing facility developed a prototype of a face mask using our dog bed liner material, and we ramped up mask production to over 10,000 per day for the Maine medical community. We also helped secure $2 million worth of N95 masks for that same community, and through early May our employees packed and shipped over 719,000 pounds of food to reach those who needed it most. It’s quite humbling to lead an organization that cares so deeply about serving the community. And it’s a perfect example of what we call our ‘Stakeholder Philosophy’ in action—the idea that our success cannot be defined purely by financial results but rather by the value we add to the lives of all our stakeholders.”

Steve Smith ’92, president and CEO of L.L.Bean, on the company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

When the coronavirus and subsequent COVID-19 sickness first landed hard in the United States, one of the first places to make news was New Rochelle, a New York City suburb that became an early epicenter of the outbreak. An hour north, Stew Glenn ’67 and his wife, Eileen, would soon mobilize the New Paltz Community Foundation as the virus spread. Read the story of how they launched Help Your Neighbors 2020.

“As soon as coronavirus became a global crisis, we knew it was something that we needed to take on. It’s been incredibly inspiring not only to see that our messaging is making a difference but the speed at which so many have stepped forward to support our efforts. Almost everything about this time is unlike anything we’ve seen before—but the  one thing that hasn’t changed is that shared human desire to help.”

Lisa Sherman ’79, president and CEO of the Ad Council, whose public-service announcements and social media campaigns on topics such as COVID-19 reach millions

“There’s a need in Carlisle, and there’s a spirit in Carlisle that go hand in hand. It’s inspiring how people turn out to help. When I see what volunteers from the community do to help others they don’t know and what our clients do to help each other despite the challenges they face, I’m humbled every single day.”

Bob Weed ’80, CEO of Carlisle-based food bank Project SHARE

Read more stories about how members of the Dickinson community near and far have responded to emerging needs and challenges during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more from the summer 2020 issue of Dickinson Magazine


Published August 16, 2020