Senior Rail Supervisor Jonathon Hendrickson has always been compelled to help.
This year, he found the opportunity to do so by finding new uses for a 60-watt laser cutter he’s largely used to create gifts, and a 3-D printer he purchased years ago but had yet to unbox.
In April, Hendrickson taught himself how to use the 3-D printer and began making plastic masks, components for face shields and plastic straps that hold masks in place while taking pressure off ears, known as ear savers.
The supplies have been donated to medical workers and emergency responders, as well Metro Transit police officers, Bus Maintenance staff and co-workers at light rail. After refining his techniques, Hendrickson has made more than 6,000 ear savers and hopes to keep making them as long as there's a need.
“The printer was just sitting there, so this was the perfect excuse to learn how to use it,” Hendrickson said. “Now, it’s kind of got a little out of hand. I started with one printer and I have four of them now.”
Hendrickson said he’s always been driven to serve, a value he passes along as an assistant Scoutmaster. His interest in making pandemic supplies grew after finding a network of others doing similar work online.
He also appreciates how important protective equipment is – he and several family members tested positive for COVID-19 in September, and Hendrickson still experiences some fatigue.