By John Carkeet – Special to the Florida Catholic
Volunteers and staff members gathered at the Diocese of Venice Catholic Center on May 20, 2020 to assemble more than 50 face shields and ear saver kits for those serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first wave will go to Diocesan clergy and staff and volunteers at Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. food distribution sites.
The kits were made possible by dozens of people throughout the Diocese who joined the Camillus Project. Named after St. Camillus de Lellis, the patron saint for doctors, nurses and the sick, this philanthropic campaign uses 3D printing technology to create Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
“As soon as I heard the 3D CAD (Computer Aided Design) community was printing PPE, I knew we had to do our part and help too,” said Jennifer Falestiny, founder and lead designer of the Camillus Project.
Falestiny, who also serves as the Diocesan Curriculum Coordinator, collaborated with the Diocese’s Department of Education and its schools to recruit volunteers with 3D printers to create the components necessary to build the kits.
“We have several individuals and even a school who joined the Camillus Project,” Falestiny said. “Together they have printed hundreds of face shields and ear savers, and they plan to print hundreds more in the coming weeks.”
Each kit contains a face shield, ear saver (a component which allows someone to secure the face shield without having to loop it around their ears), instructions, informational material about the Camillus Project and a thank you card from the Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools Community.
Morena McCormack and Cathy Grippi, Catholic Charities volunteers at Our Mother’s House in Venice, assisted in the assembly of the first waves of face shields. They both were grateful for the opportunity to help provide the much needed PPE.
“It’s more than just finding a bunch of people to fire up their 3D printers,” Falestiny said. “The success of this project also hinges on people testing designs, identifying recipients, assembling kits and delivering these kits to those who need them most… This is a team effort that requires creativity, coordination and a little elbow grease.”
According to Falestiny, the kits will arrive in several waves from May through July. Clergy, staff members and volunteers with Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc., who assist food distribution centers within the Diocese will receive the first wave. The next waves of completed kits will be delivered to doctors, nurses and first responders at Bayfront Health in Port Charlotte and Lee Health Systems in Fort Myers.
“Clergy at the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools alumni who are currently serving on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis will receive kits as well,” Falestiny added.
Although the Camillus Project is primarily a product of the COVID-19 pandemic, Falestiny sees its impact resonating throughout the Diocese for years to come. “The Camillus Project demonstrates the power of STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Art, Mathematics). Our schools have incorporated STREAM into their curriculum for several years. When the world cried for help, we had the faith, knowledge and experience to answer the call.”
To learn more about the Camillus Project and register as a volunteer, visit dovdepartmentofedu.wixsite.com/camillusproject.