The Wisconsin Boys & Girls Clubs announced plans to coordinate with the Wisconsin Office of Emergency Management to distribute over 450,000 N95 masks to communities across the state at no cost to residents.
The N95 mask is currently believed to provide the best protection from the omicron variant of COVID-19. Communities throughout the US have recently begun efforts to distribute this particular form of personal protective equipment (PPE) to combat rising numbers of cases.
According to a press release, the Boys & Girls Club, which has chapters throughout the state, will focus on using its infrastructure to provide more protective masks to combat the omicron variant.
According to Boys & Girls Club State Alliance Director Andy Gussert, the organization has partnered with state officials on several occasions to provide services to Wisconsin residents, and the new program to distribute PPE serves as an extension of previous efforts to serve local communities.
“We simply want to provide upgraded N95 masks to employees, member families and community partners if they want them,” said Gussert. “We partner with the state on a myriad of issues, and are always here to share our infrastructure to help solve problems.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the organization has employed over 2,000 workers and enlisted 9,000 volunteers to distribute PPE, open food banks and provide after school assistance and child care to the families of essential workers. In 2020, the Boys & Girls Club provided over 2 million free meals to children and families statewide.
Additionally, the organization opened COVID-19 testing and vaccination centers in many of its clubs, including in Dane and Milwaukee counties.
Vice President of the Wisconsin Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs Christina Singh stated that the clubs play an important role in distributing resources to Wisconsin communities.
In a public statement, Michael Johnson, the CEO of the Dane County Boys & Girls Club, thanked Gov. Evers for providing the organization with masks to distribute in Wisconsin communities and emphasized the importance of working with community partners for distributing PPE to local residents.
"We want to thank Governor Evers and the Office of Emergency Management for providing N95 and KN95 masks to the youth, individuals, community non-profits and grassroots organizations in our area," Johnson said. “We are all in this together, and the help from our community partners has been invaluable in getting N95 masks into people's hands."
Singh is also the CEO of Sheboygan County Boys & Girls Club and currently oversees the distribution of 27,000 masks in the Sheboygan area.
“We are eager to utilize our infrastructure to help stop the state’s problems whenever we can,” she added. “Clubs are safe spaces during out of school time, and so much more.”
Francesca Pica is the city news editor for The Daily Cardinal. She has covered multiple municipal elections and is a leading reporter on Madison labor issues. Additionally, she will serve as a news intern for The Capital Times throughout the summer of 2023.