WEST SPRINGFIELD — Michele Anstett, CEO and owner of Visiting Angels West Springfield, was faced with many new challenges in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Visiting Angels provides home care to seniors and disabled adults throughout the Pioneer Valley and surrounding areas. While searching for personal protective equipment (PPE) to answer the growing concern of client and caregiver safety, Anstett found that many retailers were either sold out of essential PPE or had an estimated delivery date of mid- to late summer.
One night, while searching for isolation gowns to purchase, Anstett came across a nonprofit organization called Gowns4Good. The organization, started by Than Moore and his team, collects and distributes clean graduation gowns for use as PPE. The gowns were tested and determined to be fluid-resistant — an important characteristic for protecting healthcare workers. When worn backwards, the gowns have a high neckline (mimicking the isolation-gown style seen in hospital settings). After putting in a request, Anstett had a volunteer at the door the next day delivering an order of eight gowns. The gowns continued to arrive in the following weeks.
In total, Visiting Angels of West Springfield received more than 60 gowns. Graduates of all ages nationwide donated their gowns, giving them new life.
“Many of the gowns had a note and a name,” Anstett said, “and seeing what the graduates had given up made me very emotional, but these gowns have the potential to save lives.”
Anyone with a college or high-school graduation gown that’s no longer needed can donate it to Gowns4Good by visiting www.gowns4good.net.