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Warren teacher makes face shields, ear guards for healthcare workers

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published April 21, 2020

 Chatterton Middle School teacher Sharon Sylvester has been using two 3-D printers to make face shields for local hospital workers. She also is making ear guards for face masks.

Chatterton Middle School teacher Sharon Sylvester has been using two 3-D printers to make face shields for local hospital workers. She also is making ear guards for face masks.

Photo provided by Sharon Sylvester

 Chatterton Middle School teacher Sharon Sylvester has a personal connection to those working in the medical field during the COVID-19 pandemic as her son Kyle Sylvester (pictured) is an emergency medical technician.

Chatterton Middle School teacher Sharon Sylvester has a personal connection to those working in the medical field during the COVID-19 pandemic as her son Kyle Sylvester (pictured) is an emergency medical technician.

Photo provided by Sharon Sylvester

"I just wanted to be able to help any way I could. I have so much respect for those that are on the front lines. This is a way to help people out.”

Sharon Sylvester, Chatterton Middle School teacher

WARREN — When Chatterton Middle School teacher Sharon Sylvester learned local hospitals were in need of medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, she immediately volunteered her time to help.

Since March 31, the science, social studies and robotics teacher has been making face shields for healthcare workers to use when tending to COVID-19 patients. Sylvester has been utilizing her 3-D printer she received a few years ago through a teacher grant from Extra Credit Union in Warren. 

Sylvester kept the printer at home and was able to program it to create the face shields using transparency film, a hole puncher and other materials. It takes 90 minutes to print one face shield. Sylvester has been making the medical supplies while she is teaching her students online during the shutdown. Chatterton is part of Fitzgerald Public Schools. 

The face shields easily slide on and off the head, and are meant to be worn over surgical face masks. At press time, Sylvester had already made at least 200 face shields. The educator was able to increase her output because she received another 3-D printer from “a very generous friend of mine” who wished to remain anonymous.

The face shields were then donated to various hospitals, including Beaumont Health, the Detroit Medical Center, Sinai-Grace Hospital and Hutzel Women's Hospital. Sylvester also donated some face shields to workers at a Sterling Heights market. 

“These breath and they don’t fog up. I just wanted to be able to help any way I could,” Sylvester said. “I have so much respect for those that are on the front lines. This is a way to help people out.”

One of those front line employees is her son, Kyle Sylvester, who is an emergency medical technician.

In addition to making the face shields, Sylvester also has made about 100 pairs of ear guards to be worn with surgical face masks. According to Sylvester, the straps of the surgical face masks can cause irritation and chapping around the ears, and the ear guards provide relief. The ear guards somewhat resemble a hair clip and attach to a strap that connects the ear guards to the face masks.  

“It is heartwarming to see and read about so many people coming together in time of need. Sharon's gesture is a true dedication to her work as a service employee wanting to give back to the essential workers,” Fitzgerald Public Schools Superintendent Laurie Fournier said in an email. “I am pleased knowing that she has taken on this personal project of making face masks for medical employees that work in our local hospitals.  Her generosity has been welcomed and appreciated by many.”

To keep the project going, Sylvester said she received $500 from Extra Credit Union and also $100 from Randahl Agency Meemic Insurance Agent in Warren for materials. Sylvester has also set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to purchase a third 3-D printer and more supplies to make the personal protection equipment. Sylvester’s goal is to raise $3,800; at press time she had raised $1,580.

Donate at www.gofundme.com/f/covid19-ppe-face-shields-for-first-responders.

“I’ve got a lot of strangers donating. It just makes me feel good I can help,” Sylvester said. “As long as I have filament, I’m going to keep doing this.”