Helping Nonprofits Get PPE During the Pandemic | United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

Helping Nonprofits Get Personal Protective Equipment During the Pandemic

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas continues its efforts to relieve the community’s coronavirus trauma with a new program helping nonprofits get Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies. The initiative is strictly for nonprofits working to address the urgent basic needs exacerbated by COVID-19.

For this program, created in partnership with Communities Foundation of Texas and Trusted World, United Way will purchase a bulk order of PPE supplies to sell and donate to nonprofits that cannot afford to buy them.

‘This is life and death’

About 80 percent of organizations that received money through the United Way’s Coronavirus Response & Recovery Fund mentioned needing to purchase some type of PPE in their applications, said Daniel Bouton, United Way’s director of health and wellness. Many could buy supplies with their grant money, but some still had trouble finding PPE even though they had the money to purchase it.

“This isn’t just stuff,” Bouton said. “This is life and death for our frontline workers and others in the health-care industry. Not having a mask or other protective gear puts them at great risk of contracting COVID-19.

“We’ve been working on this PPE project almost since the beginning, (of the pandemic) when we realized how dire the need was for masks and other equipment,” he said. “It’s all coming together now, and the organizations we’re helping will be getting their supplies by mid-August.

Picture of Cleaners and Hand Sanitizers

Initial order includes more than 200,000 items

Nonprofits that can afford to purchase PPE but cannot access bulk purchasing for various reasons will be able to buy supplies at our bulk price, bringing significant savings. Those that can’t afford to buy PPE will receive donations from both the bulk order—after paid orders have been fulfilled—and from donations of supplies made to United Way by various companies. Bank of America, for instance, donated 30,000 masks.

Supplies in the initial bulk order will include 100,000 three-ply surgical masks, 150,000 nitrile gloves and 500 gallons of hand sanitizer along with other supplies. That may sound like a lot, but even small nonprofits can go through hundreds of masks and gloves in a single week.

Items that have been donated to United Way and will be distributed include face shields, head covers, shoe covers and aprons. The initial bulk order will cost about $65,000, Bouton said. United Way and Communities Foundation of Texas have each donated $15,000, and other North Texas companies are also pitching in.

Garland-based Trusted World, one of United Way’s Social Innovation Accelerator fellows, will manage the collection and distribution of the PPE supplies. Trusted World focuses on distributing donated goods to nonprofits and already has the technology, experience and capacity to distribute these supplies effectively.

Multiple orders are a possibility

Bouton anticipates helping more than 100 nonprofits during the next six months. In preparation for the program, United Way and Communities Foundation have vetted dozens of PPE suppliers to find the best low-cost options.

In both phases of the program, donations and purchase, Trusted World will store the items for short periods for pick-up by the nonprofits. United Way anticipates placing multiple orders but will begin with a relatively small inventory until the extent of need is determined.

The need for PPE grows by the day, as frontline personnel put themselves at risk to treat pandemic patients: Earlier this summer, according to a Washington Post article, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 77,800 U.S. health-care workers had tested positive for coronavirus, and more than 400 had died.

That number includes not only nurses and physicians but also EMTs, paramedics and medical technologists. The CDC acknowledges that’s a significant undercount, as there is no official tally for deaths among health-care workers—not to mention the health-care staff who also need PPE, such as hospital janitors, hospital administrators and nursing-home workers.

‘Significant savings’

In vetting the applications for the PPE program, priority was given to social service organizations that provide financial assistance, food access, mental health and clothing; and to nonprofits led by people of color supporting underserved communities.

Amy Ferdinando, director of development at Children’s Advocacy Center of Denton County, said the bulk purchase offered them “significant savings” with this first order. “It’s a great thing they [United Way] is doing with this. This was not an expense that was planned; we certainly didn’t see this coming.

“But we have not closed our doors [since the pandemic started]. We are mandated by the state to see children who are victims of sexual and physical abuse, so we had to immediately go into PPE mode. We have to make it a safe, clean environment for everyone who comes in,” she said.

“There are several rooms we see children in when they come in, and sometimes we’ll also have a handful of well-meaning relatives. We go through a lot of sanitizing wipes” and other gear, Ferdinando said. The center has, sadly, gotten much busier since the pandemic began. (Experts say the stress and trauma of the pandemic have led to a marked increase nationally in child abuse and neglect.)

“We had 113 investigations in July, and that was our highest month ever,” Ferdinando said. “And we expect it to just go higher when school reopens, because the teachers are the ones who are usually reporting suspected abuse.

For more information, contact Daniel Bouton at dbouton@unitedwaydallas.org or Celeste Arista Glover at carista@cftexas.org.

This article was published on: Aug 11, 2020