A community banding together

During a year of unforeseen challenges, we have witnessed communities working together in many different ways displaying the spirit of cooperation. Earlier this year, Wake Electric covered the story of Wake Forest resident and small-business owner Dean Verhoeven’s great idea to help his community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using his skills as a metalsmith, Verhoeven began re-purposing scrap metal into nose strips for homemade face masks. His search for scrap metal led him to the local electric cooperative Wake Electric.

“When he came to us looking for aluminum scrap cable to help make metal strips for face masks, I knew he had come to the right place,” said Don Bowman, vice president of engineering and operations at Wake Electric.

Initially working from his own workshop, Verhoeven and a small group of volunteers began making and shipping hundreds of metal nose strips to people making homemade cloth masks. In order to accommodate the growing operation, new volunteers were recruited and the operation moved from his workshop to the Corner of Wake Forest building, and most recently to the American Legion Post 187 in Wake Forest.

“There are many things that have made this project successful, but the main thing has been our community banding together. We have volunteers ranging from teenagers to senior citizens and I myself am a veteran. This has been very humbling, rewarding, enjoyable experience and we are grateful the community in Wake Forest is helping to make a difference all across the world,” said Renae Hill, one of the original volunteers who has been with the project since April.

Since the start of this project, Verhoeven and his dedicated team of volunteers have produced and shipped 135,000 metal nose strips all over the world including Australia, Canada, Iceland and England to name a few.

As face masks continue to become a necessity to everyday life, Verhoeven’s nose strip operation will likely carry into next year. “We’ll continue to do that as long as there’s demand. I really believe that these strips make masks more comfortable, easier to wear, and more effective. I want to make sure they continue to be available as long as they’re needed,” he said. These metal strips are available through Verhoeven’s Joeveo company website at Joveo.com and are being given away just for the price of shipping.

“As we enter the season of gratitude, Wake Electric is thankful for the opportunity to provide scrap metal for this operation,” Bowman said. “We are proud of all the hard work and community cooperation it has taken to make this project such a success.”

Volunteer Renae Hill (left) and Project Lead Dean Verhoeven (right) work alongside a local veteran to produce metal strips for face masks at the American Legion of Wake Forest.

Volunteer Renae Hill (left) and Project Lead Dean Verhoeven (right) work alongside a local veteran to produce metal strips for face masks at the American Legion of Wake Forest.

Local high school senior Genevieve has taken on the role as the project manager this summer, helping recruit and organize volunteers as well as assist with nose strip production.

Local high school senior Genevieve has taken on the role as the project manager this summer, helping recruit and organize volunteers as well as assist with nose strip production.

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