UCI Beall Applied Innovation Staff Puts Community First

Making Waves
May 11, 2020 By Ethan Perez

At the onset of the pandemic, the UCI Beall Applied Innovation staff was given the directive to continue their work from home and the Cove @ UCI closed its physical doors. Since then, many Applied Innovation employees took action to help others dealing with coronavirus-related hardships.

UCI recently made the news when the campus, industry and the UCI Medical Center collaborated to design, produce and deliver thousands of face shields to the medical center. Though the media covered the initial round of face shields in production, volunteers are still hard at work assembling even more. Applied Innovation staff Chris Abernethy, Jackie Connor, Travis Robidoux, Kristina Cabran, David Gibbons, Melissa Makolin, James Wang, Justin Becker, Sue Yi, James Ranon, Natalie Tedford, Celestine Trimnell and Donna Scharf joined Lab Manager Sara Willman and student workers Myia Dickens and Justin Perrizo at the Cove to assemble face shields.

Medical professionals are not the only ones in need of personal protective equipment. As communities struggle to obtain face masks, many around the world have taken it upon themselves to sew masks for those who need them most. Multiple Applied Innovation staff members, including Sue Yi, Natalie Weaver and Corrine Pratt, have sewn hundreds of face masks from their own homes. The masks have been donated to essential workers, homeless veterans, first responders, medical professionals, and friends and family.

While many are trying to get safety equipment, there are still those that lack basic needs. Applied Innovation staff Angie Karchmer, Casie Kelly and Natalie Weaver have helped in many ways, from providing meals through monetary or food donations to volunteering time at the Someone Cares Soup Kitchen. Local organizations that received donations include the California Community Foundation, Orange County Rescue Mission, and Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, whose board is chaired by Kate Klimow.

Information exchange has also become a pain point for many communities affected by COVID-19. Applied Innovation student worker Amy Vong, along with friends in her community of Antelope Valley, developed a website to share information and resources related to COVID-19. It covers issues including healthcare, food insecurity, unemployment and workers’ rights. Additionally, Vong and her collaborators are reaching out to other organizers within their community to partner with and provide on-the-ground help to complement their website’s informational resources.

The works done by Applied Innovation staff represent a small fraction of the community-first COVID-19 response happening all over Southern California. Find out more information about UCI Beall Applied Innovation’s call-to-action and resources during COVID-19.

*Main graphic: Selina Tieu

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