Nurses at our BensKids Health Centre

Nurses at our BensKids Health Centre in their new masks

When COVID-19 hit, Don Peterson saw a chance to give back. As a 3D printer owner, he realized he could produce the essential masks needed by health care workers. But it was more personal than that: he wanted to donate these masks to Covenant House, the shelter where he’d found his place in the world.

Don was 15 years old when he was first introduced to the outside world without parents. It’s when he says his real education began.

There was trouble; there were mistakes. And he learned from all of it. But it wasn’t until he started connecting with staff at Covenant House that things turned around for him.

“It’s hard to want to accept advice or help. I was always on the defence, and I always had my back up. It was the staff that helped me trust that they weren’t trying to rob me or steer me wrong. They pushed me to do good things.”

Covenant House staff helped him get ID, a social insurance number and his first job as a telemarketer. In time, he got his own place, and Covenant House was there with clothes and furnishings.

That was 20 years ago. When Don recently heard about the mask shortage for front-line health care workers dealing with COVID-19, he looked at his collection of 3D printers and other supplies and realized he could pump out masks and face guards for the people who changed his life.

A couple of weeks later and the medical supplies arrived at the front door of Covenant House. With 100 new masks, staff can stay safe as they continue to support young people in need.

Don reflects: “This was just the right thing to do. I’m not even paying it forward. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know where my life would have ended up. I’m where I’m at today because people didn’t turn their backs on me.”