This article is the third in a series of articles about members of the Jefferson Lab community who are using their personal time and expertise to help the local community in the face of the pandemic.
Three Jefferson Lab staff members personally donate time, energy and expertise to facilitate donations of supplies to caregivers during COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic
While the Department of Energy’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News has temporarily suspended operations, most of its staff continue to perform the lab’s scientific mission via teleworking from home. Now, several employees have added even more hours to their days in the form of personal charity work to help frontline medical staff in the community through their involvement with the Peninsula Chinese American Association and the Tidewater Chinese School for the Hampton Roads Region.
Hui Tian, a staff scientist at Jefferson Lab, is no stranger to organizing virtually. In addition to her membership in the PCAA, she is an active member of the River of Life Christian Church in Williamsburg. When COVID-19 began to make its way to the United States, she knew that her church and the PCAA could assist in providing much-needed assistance to frontline medical workers.
Through both community organizations, she began organizing drives with her church coworkers for medical supplies for local facilities, quickly building a donation pipeline for COVID-19 supplies through systems that they already used and through relationships they already had in their network.
“All of our sermons are online,” Tian said. “We meet for bible studies, prayer meetings, everything, all by Zoom. So now, those have just increased, as we meet to discuss equipment and have more prayer meetings.”
For instance, after hearing that a Williamsburg physician had to use a mask for four days in a row, Tian’s church was able to almost immediately donate 5,000 surgical and N95 masks and medical gowns. They haven’t slowed since.
Another Jefferson Lab staff member, Gary Cheng, has relied on his professional expertise to aid in pandemic volunteerism through his ties with the TCS. Cheng is a mechanical engineer who has worked at the lab for nearly 14 years. He has donated his time, money and energy to provide procurement support to ensure that the organization is being good stewards of the donations received and is providing personal protective equipment that meets evolving health regulations.
Cheng said he works together with volunteers who are either former or current TCS Board Directors and have different areas of expertise, but who are not medical professionals. Cheng and his volunteer partners made many contacts to overseas medical personal protective equipment suppliers to locate appropriate PPE for donation to local health facilities in need.
He also serves as the treasurer for the TCS. Through the school, Cheng learned of parents in the health industry who were seeing supplies of PPE dwindle as supply lines are strained and large orders delayed and re-routed to other areas in desperate need. Understanding that smaller shipments may be expedited, Cheng worked with his contacts to route smaller boxes of PPE and speed shipments to Hampton Roads hospitals.
“We know that timelines are important for supplies,” Cheng said. “Bulk orders, even if we expedite, are just not arriving as quickly as they are needed, so we have been breaking orders into smaller boxes.”
The smaller boxes are still adding up to a large impact for Hampton Roads health facilities. PCAA and TCS donate to multiple facilities and work to connect the hospitals and providers with items that match their needs.
“We collected almost $10,000 and 1,798 items, including surgical caps, N95 and other surgical face masks, gloves and alcohol prep pads in one day,” said Shirley Yang, a lead mechanical engineer in Jefferson Lab’s cryogenics department who is also involved with the PCAA. “Since then, we’ve received more than $16,000 in cash donations. We used the donated funds to purchase medically rated surgical masks and PPE. By April 17, we had donated 13,401 pieces of PPE to our local hospitals.”
Yang, who has been with the lab for almost a decade, is the current vice president of the PCAA, and she is proud of the commitment and of the significant donations of time, money and expertise the group has made.
“Many in the group are spending late hours on the phone trying to find supplies and talking to connections in other time zones,” said Yang. “The community is wonderful, and we are doing this because we know how important it is to protect our medical professionals.”
Through their combined actions, all three of these Jefferson Lab employees have made a significant positive impact for the community.
Find more information on the Peninsula Chinese American Association here.
By Jessica Bedenbaugh
Other articles in this series:
Contact: Lauren Hansen, Jefferson Lab Communications Office, 757-269-7689, email@example.com