Hope Helps Provide PPEs

The news is rife with stories about personal protective equipment (PPEs) being in short supply for the medical community. Masks, gloves and gowns are literal lifesavers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those supplies can also be found in abundance in collegiate research laboratories but at Hope, not any more. Much of the college’s PPE stock has been donated to area hospitals.

Hope PPEs became area hospital PPEs.

Dr. Jeffrey Johnson of the chemistry department, Dr. Brian Rider of the kinesiology department, and Lori Hertel of the biology department have delivered dozens of cases of masks, gowns, safety glasses, gloves and hair coverings from the various Hope labs to Holland Community Hospital as well as Spectrum Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“Once we transferred over to online instruction, it was obvious that health professionals would need this equipment long before our students,” said Johnson. “I’m just thankful for the faculty and departments across campus who so willingly donated their supplies.”

Even before the CDC declared that homemade masks would be helpful protection during the pandemic, Kristin Underhill ’95 of the art department began churning out cloth facemasks to aid front-liners. To date, she estimated she’s made more than 150.

Krisin Underhill’s home office and production line

“They’ve gone as far as a research team printing masks in Missouri to a clinic in Wisconsin.  And most are Hope connected,” she said.  “My freshman year roomie messaged me and said her husband is the only doctor at a clinic in Wisconsin and said ‘please send masks.’ I sent some to Chicago for my junior year roomie’s husband who is a first responder. And I did send a couple to my brother in Cincinnati who is a manager at a Meijer on the front lines stocking and restocking and cleaning his store.”

“But my desktop computer from Hope is in the same room as my ironing board and sewing machine, so it’s literally the home office and a production line,” Underhill added. “I can’t get some supplies fast enough it seems.”

Adam Peckens of the engineering department set up two of the department’s tabletop 3D printers in his basement after the Michigan governor issued a stay-at-home order effective Tuesday, March 24, thus closing down all of Hope’s campus. The printers are now linked to the #3Dc19 coalition, a group of individuals, businesses, and organizations that have 3D printing capabilities to create components for ventilators, reusable masks and face shields. 

Hope’s MakerBots create face shield components.

Hope’s 3D printers are running support brackets for face shields, creating about 20 a day that then will be attached to the clear part of shields which are supplied by another organization.

“This is a pretty expansive network of individuals, and I was introduced to it by my colleague in the engineering department, Susan Ipri Brown,” said Peckens. “She is also supporting this endeavor in other ways.”

“I manage a non-profit called The Little Stuff Fund that helps with small community projects, and I was asked to partner with this non-profit coalition in order to raise funds,” Ipri Brown said. “Many companies and individuals are giving their time and effort to printing these components. The fund raising that I’m managing is paying for the raw materials and shipping costs that these volunteers are using to make and deliver the parts.”

If you know of others in the Hope community who are serving those on front lines of this crisis, please let us know. Leave a comment on this Keeping Hope blog post.

New Book Offers Courageous Advice for a Daunting Time

Never in his wildest imagination could Dr. Daryl Van Tongeren, associate professor of psychology, have guessed that the release of his first book co-written with his wife, Sara, would come at time when their work would be pertinent to millions of people all at once.

Never could he have known that The Courage to Suffer, a project started three years ago and released by Templeton Press in early March, would be a necessary and widespread call to action for a world beleaguered by the COVID-19 crisis.

Never.

Yet, here we are, staying at home, worried for loved ones, praying for miracles, grieving loss, keeping hope.

Daryl Van Tongeren and Sara Showalter Van Tongeren

And here is the Van Tongerens’ book to guide us through daunting emotions unraveled by a persistent reality. Though written mainly for clinicians — its subtitle is A New Clinical Framework for Life’s Greatest Crises — the 184-page book’s strategies will be appreciated by laypeople going through chronic suffering, Van Tongeren says.

“When we suffer, we realize the finite nature of our humanity and that we don’t have control over things like the coronavirus,” says Van Tongeren. “But suffering is an inherent part of life and these realities are not things for us to be afraid of. They’re just things for us to come to terms with.”

Maybe easier said than done? Van Tongeren offers these words of encouragement for the here and now:

“First, we can start with acceptance. It begins with seeing this pandemic for what it really is and acknowledging that it uncovers some deep fears we have, such as our own mortality, our lack of control, and the uncertainty of life.

“Second, we can ask ourselves what our core fear is, because this often is tied to love. That is, we may fear losing those we care about because we love them. Once we realize that fear can point toward love, we don’t have to be afraid of fear. We can use this as information to help us identify those things we love.

“Third, we can engage with vulnerable compassion. We can turn toward others who are suffering with compassion, knowing that they, like us, are vulnerable and deserve empathy, love, and kindness. This will help us realize that some of these fears can move us into more authentic living.”

As for The Courage to Suffer, the Van Tongerens offers more wisdom to work through suffering, using a storytelling arc of their own personal suffering as they integrate an existential and positive psychology approach. Daryl, as a social psychologist, and Sara, as a licensed clinical social worker, walk readers through five different stages of darkness and light, describing how we first deal with the sting of suffering and how we can then push forward into the painful darkness and come through the other side toward authentic living that honors the pain of our suffering.

“These virtues do not mean that we ignore the reality of the pain and loss that many are facing. Rather, we can choose to respond virtuously knowing full well the weight of this pandemic.”

“Many people question some of their fundamental beliefs in suffering. That’s normal,” Van Tongeren says, “but they can begin rebuilding the way that they need to see the world. Then they can choose to live with authenticity moving forward.”

Van Tongeren also says there are strengths and virtues that help us live a flourishing life in the face of suffering, especially during the intense time of COVID-19. They just might be the emotional, social, and relational panacea for the crisis we face now.

“First, we can be grateful: for those of us who are still healthy, for our relationships, for small things that bring us joy and meaning,” he says. “Second, we can be humble: we can listen to the orders to stay indoors for the benefit of others, even if we feel less vulnerable. Third, we can be courageous: to face the uncertainty of the future with hope and resolve, knowing that together, we will get through this.

“And these virtues do not mean that we ignore the reality of the pain and loss that many are facing. Rather, we can choose to respond virtuously knowing full well the weight of this pandemic.”