#VentilatorHeroes. Because every role matters.
When Kokomo, Indiana, suddenly found itself the epicenter of the most significant ventilator manufacturing endeavor in the US, many of its residents were likely unprepared for the influx of engineers, builders, technicians, and general contractors about to flood its streets, shops, and hotel rooms. And as we engineering types might not be the most light-footed, to begin with, once you mix in the stress of a near-impossible schedule and the 18-hour days needed to keep up with that schedule, you may not always get the most considerate guests.
Fortunately, Kokomo’s hospitality industry was ready to welcome us with open arms. In the aftermath of heroic efforts, the human impulse is to spend time and words honoring individuals we consider to be on the ‘front lines.’ People who build the ventilators and offer the expertise and guidance to ensure their performance, but none of that can happen without a support system. A system that keeps us supplied with tools and materials, food, warmth, and comfort so we can be human beings after a long day as ventilator-building machines. While our choice of sustenance varied from day-to-day, all of Velentium, most of Ventec, and a fair amount of General Motors found ourselves returning to The Courtyard every night. Here, new colleagues who had never met before this project could bond as people, away from the harsh florescent lights of the factory floor and constant deadlines and instead in comfortable chairs – safely socially distanced, of course – and a bucket of beers (or whiskey, as the occasion necessitated). Having a safe reprieve from the intensity of the General Motors plant became crucial as the days grew even longer; many quickly settled into a cycle of work, sleep, work. When there is so little time to be human, small gestures like remembering how you take your coffee and having it ready became oddly grand.
Then, from niceties grew necessities. Our team found itself in need of a constant stream of supplies from our various vendors: tools, replacement parts, or new designs. Items were invented on the fly as our processes rapidly evolved, and it quickly became apparent that sending packages to the GM plant was like throwing needles into a haystack. We needed another way. And so, The Courtyard quickly became our receiving station. They received packages throughout the day, notifying us if we needed an emergency pickup, printing shipping labels and prepping them for UPS, and remembering who was in what room and who worked for which company or trusted which co-worker to bring in supplies for them. Logistical help that went above and beyond, and leading the charge was Bambi Roe, the general manager, who learned all our names, faces, and general schedules. She did everything she could to look after us. She’s a natural caretaker, patient when salty industry guys are way too loud at 3 AM, quick to lighten the mood with a joke, always ready to recommend the next hole-in-the-wall restaurant to uncover. She and the rest of her staff are #VentilatorHeroes:
Kokomo Courtyard by Marriott Core Staff. From Left to Right: Maggie - Assistant Executive Housekeeper; Bambi - General Manager; Amy - Assistant General Manager; Ashley - Executive Housekeeper. Used with permission.
Said Bambi, “When the opportunity came for the Kokomo Courtyard by Marriott to offer our services to the production team for the ventilator project, we were happy to do our part. Our experienced staff displayed what ‘Hoosier Hospitality’ is all about. We have met many people over our years of service, but knowing our hotel has been home to many of the front-line workers during these trying times makes our job so much more rewarding.”
Thanks, Maggie, Bambi, Amy, and Ashley, for the stellar hospitality, professional, personable care, and logistics management support that you and your staff at Courtyard provided to the Project V crew. Thank you for being #VentilatorHeroes.