By TIM KELLY
Billy Godfrey and friends Andrew Moon, Tony Wilson and Steve McKusker were doing the right things.
Like most Ocean City residents and visitors, the men were self-quarantined in their homes, practicing social distancing and venturing out and about only when necessary, and for approved reasons.
The worldwide coronavirus pandemic had forced them to adhere to the “new normal.”
“But we felt we had to do more than that,” Godfrey said.
The men wanted to do something to help protect the front line workers in their efforts to control the spread of the disease.
To Godfrey, the answer was surprisingly simple: find hospital-grade masks and get them into the hands of the people who needed them the most.
“If we could somehow find these masks, we could make a difference,” Godfrey said.
The men all live and/or work in the Ocean City community. Godfrey and Moon work for the Marr Agency Real Estate group, Wilson is a city councilman who owns and operates Wilson Plumbing, and McKusker resides in town and owns Box of Rain Irrigation.
Godfrey saw what was happening in Italy, where one-in-10 coronavirus patients work in the healthcare system.
“We don’t want that to happen here,” he said. “We need to help the healthcare workers so they can keep helping people without getting sick themselves.”
The men embarked on a quest for masks and they found them. Through online research, Godfrey’s group identified a wholesale source of the coveted N-95 masks preferred by doctors, nurses and other workers in healthcare.
“Once we found them, the guys stepped up, saying, ‘Yeah, I’ll buy some’ and that’s how we initially got this thing going,” Godfrey explained.
The masks arrived on Friday and the men delivered 250 each to Cape Regional Medical Center in Cape May Court House, Shore Medical Center in Somers Point, the New Jersey State Police and OCNJ CARE. The latter is a non-profit organization serving local people in need who have been impacted by the crisis.
“This is a great thing,” said Drew Fasy, chairman of OCNJ CARE. “If (Godfrey and friends) have access to those masks and can share them in our community, it is a great help.”
Fasy said the donation of the masks will have a profound impact on locals in need of services.
“Both of those hospitals serve our residents, and both employ our residents,” he said.
Those comments were echoed by Terry Clemens, a State Trooper who gratefully received a donation of the masks.
“This is just another example of Ocean City community members coming together to help each other,” he said. “We, like everyone else, have been affected by the shortages of things like masks and hand sanitizer. We are extremely grateful for this donation and I can assure you it will be put to good use.”
Clemens said if other individuals wish to donate personal protective equipment, or PPEs, they should email ppedonations@NJSP.org for further information.
Godfrey said he and his friends will soon be launching a crowdfunding site to enable others to donate to their cause. More information on that will be forthcoming when the site goes live early next week, he added.
In the meantime, Shore Medical Center emergency room doctor and Ocean City resident Dr. Keith Grim called the donation “very appreciated” and said that the masks would be used right away to help those fighting the virus on the front lines.
“It was a beautiful gesture by those gentlemen,” Grim said. “We can’t thank them enough.”