Making Their Mark: Q+A with Ashley Silfra and Paul Falor on Making Masks for their Community

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Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, communities are coming together to help one another through these tough times. Upon learning about personal protection equipment and mask shortages, North Highland’s Paul Falor, CIO & VP of Strategic Alliances, and Ashley Silfra, Project Manager, rose to the occasion and put their skills to work to make masks for their communities. We reached out to Paul and Ashley to learn more about how they became involved.

How are you supporting your local community during the pandemic?

Ashley: I am leveraging my past sewing experience to create homemade masks for those in my local community. I offered the masks to those who are at higher risk first and am taking new requests every week. I am also offering wellness sessions for local organizations and companies, such as Sunday Assembly Atlanta, a secular community based here in Atlanta, as a way to help people learn new skills for how to grow their own and other’s wellness during these times.

Paul: I am 3D printing masks, face shields, and “ear savers” to help medical professionals who are wearing masks their entire shift. To date my printed equipment is in use at Northside, Emory, and Kennestone Hospitals, and nine other local doctors’ offices. So far, I donated more than 200 masks and shields!

What made you want to get involved?

Ashley: It can be easy to feel quite isolated and helpless during this time, when we are encouraged that the best way we can protect the health of ourselves and others is to stay home. Making masks is my way of doing something more active to contribute to the physical health of our communities, and offering wellness sessions honors a very deep desire I have to see people become more conscious of and focused on creating mental and emotional wellness for themselves and others. I also learned that my own wellness includes a focus on contribution – so the more ways I find to contribute during this time, the more fulfilled I feel.

Paul: I had nervous energy building up due to all of the uncertainty in the world and having a creative outlet that helped others seemed like it would be therapeutic. I had no idea how large the need was for protective gear and the effort has certainly kept me from having any downtime!

How are you applying your North Highland expertise to your efforts?

Ashley: Consulting really forces you to think in a value-centric way. Each day I work with a client, I am asking myself, “What is the most valuable thing I can do for them today?” And I ask myself, “What am I doing that doesn’t add value, and how quickly can I replace that activity with something that does?” This same approach helped me to really focus my efforts in the community on the things that add value. And sometimes the things that add the most value are counter intuitive. I found that truly one of the most valuable ways we can serve our communities right now is to listen deeply to ourselves and others, as we are all processing our experience of these times.

Paul: North Highland embraces the maker culture and allowed me to explore new and innovative ways of operating the technology function. Our firm focuses on helping organizations transform forward, and finding creative new solutions to old problems falls clearly in that bucket. I am running my efforts as a project with strict deadlines and deliverables based on the imminence of the risk. Earlier this week I found a group of anesthesiologists that were intubating COVID-19 patients and reusing protective gear so I pulled an all-nighter to get them equipped!

Is there anything else you want to share?

Ashley: Find the intersection of the things that fulfill you and the things the world needs. That is the sweet spot where our service makes the most impact and we generate more wellness and fulfillment for everyone.

Paul: Get involved! We are all in this together and I love watching all of the non-traditional ways people are finding to help.