DETROIT — Demand for protective face masks remains high and together Ford and it's philanthropic arm, Ford Motor Company Fund, has launched a community donation program that is delivering more than 100 million masks across the United States. On Detroit's east side, the Ford Resource and Engagement Center (FREC) was one of many mask distribution locations around southeast Michigan. Ford volunteers packed 20 masks into colorful bags and passed them out to people as they drove up. Thousands of masks were given away to provide an added measure of protection from COVID-19.
"We're here to be a service to the community," said Justin Kimpson, senior director, Ford Resource and Engagement Center. "We've reached out to all of our neighborhood block clubs. Masks cost money and anytime you can get a set of 20 free masks it can stretch your budget."
"I really appreciate you guys," said Truman Hamilton, resident, Detroit's east side. "You're helping to save lives out here."
The FREC in southwest Detroit and more than three dozen area Ford dealerships participated in the first Ford PPE Day Detroit in September, with plans to continue future distribution days at the resource centers. Masks will also be distributed through more PPE Days in Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City and other communities across the country over the fall and winter months. By engaging its nationwide network of nonprofit partners, schools and community groups, Ford and Ford Fund are able to distribute millions of masks to help fill the essential needs of hospitals and businesses, and also cover families seeking protection from the virus. It's a convenience and a benefit, under one condition.
"You have to wear them. Looking at the mask ain't going to save your life," said Shay Hollingsworth, resident, Detroit's east side. "I want the norm to come back. People need to start doing more to protect themselves and protecting others. Then we'll be ok."
Ford Fund is working in coordination with Ford's Project Apollo, the company's codename for its efforts producing respirators, ventilators medical gowns, face shields and masks to fight COVID-19. Project Apollo has improved its ability to make medical-grade masks and is now manufacturing more than the company needs to keep its employees safe, hence Ford can help protect more people.
Both Detroit FRECs are moving forward with their mission to build stronger communities. Like everywhere else, they've had to make adjustments to keep people safe, such as drive up food deliveries at the southwest Detroit FREC and services by appointment on the east side.
"We've opened up in a limited fashion for essential services. Clients can come in to finish their taxes, east side legal clinic is providing services. We have job services," said Kimpson. "We've also continued our food distribution and added delivery using underutilized vans from Ford."
Ford Resource and Engagement Centers are a Ford Fund innovation to bring together nonprofit partners in a common location to support people in the surrounding neighborhoods. In addition to the two FRECs in Detroit, there are three globally in Romania, South Africa and Thailand.
Ford Fund has contributed nearly $3 million to assist nonprofits helping people manage challenges related to the pandemic, including more than $1.1 million delivered by employees and others through the COVID-19 Match Program. The program is helping 47 community organizations in 20 countries and 14 U.S. states provide hunger relief, basic needs and education during the pandemic.
To learn more about Ford Fund's response to COVID-19, visit www.fordfund.org/covid19.