The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice

Santa Clara Community Crisis Coalition Shows We Can Do It

The Santa Clara Community Crisis Coalition (SC-CCC) has turned an indoor soccer court into a medical face shield manufacturing operation, and in doing so illustrates that the solutions to our problems are within our grasp.

The face shield production operation — the coalition’s newest project — is paying unemployed workers to make the desperately needed protective shields for medical workers.

“My interest was to solve this specific problem — [the shortage of face shields] and solve the problem of the impact of COVID-19 on small business,” said Harbir Bhatia, the community activist who is the hub around which the SC-CCC orbits. “And we know people are out of work.”

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So she reached out to members of the Coalition as well as her personal network, asking for help getting materials, funding and space to set up a production operation.

“Debra York of Santa Clara Rotary agreed to help me make a prototype” from a design they found on the internet, she said.

Selectiva provided the platform for fundraising, and worked with the team to improve the process. Kaiser Permanente provided design refinements and sponsorship, while Santa Clara-based Off-the-Wall Soccer converted its indoor soccer facility into a factory floor.

“It was collective brainstorming by the Coalition about what could be done to help,” said  Off-the-Wall Soccer owner Jan Eric Nordmo, who laid himself off when the county issued the stay at home order. “I said, ‘I’m completely shut down and if you want, you can use that space.’ They needed space where people could work but keep a safe distance.”

Ravinder Lal owner of a UPS store in Santa Clara is supplying the enterprise with vinyl for the headpiece of the masks.

“Harbir called me and asked about using the type of vinyl that we use for banners and for a faster way to cut it,” he said. “I have a table cutter, and it worked out. So I ended up supplying the vinyl and cutting the pieces.”

The shields are fabricated by hand and the process is being refined into an assembly line operation, said Bhatia.

About a dozen laid-off workers are on currently on the job and earning sorely needed income. Currently, the shields going to Aaci, Kaiser Permanente, a local nursing home, and individual medical professionals

“They [Off-the-Wall Soccer] were amazing to let us do this,” Bhatia said. “They offered to do it for free, but we want to pay. If we can pay companies overseas, we can pay companies at home.”

The pandemic showed “we need to be self-reliant,” Bhatia said. “There’s no need for us to wait for another country to supply us when we can make things here ourselves.

“We’re in Silicon Valley,” she continued. “There’s no reason we can’t use our own skill and our own innovation. We can do what we do [in Silicon Valley]. This is the innovation economy.”

A network of nonprofits, community organizations, businesses and individual volunteers, the SC-CCC has about a dozen different projects going — from online story times to face mask sewing to a food pantry. You can find out more at www.facebook.com/sccoalition.

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