Originally published on TIAA.org.
For TIAA associates, serving others with passion and purpose is more than a full-time job. Meet the Difference Makers who are going above and beyond, contributing to their communities and helping those in need.
Caring makes the difference
Sachin Patel, TIAA Bank Business Analyst
Creating small toys on his 3D printer had been a great way for Sachin Patel to entertain his young twins at their home in Jacksonville, Fla. This hobby took a much more practical turn when Sachin heard his wife, a nurse practitioner, express concerns about shortages of protective gear at her work due to COVID-19. He knew he wanted to help and promptly drew on his experience to create fully functional face shields for his wife’s co-workers.
Each face shield consists of three parts: an elastic band; the clear plastic face shield; and the head gear, which Sachin makes on his 3D printer. It takes about 90 minutes for the printer to create the head gear, and then he assembles the three pieces so they’re ready to use.
“I shared something on Facebook and quickly realized how many people are in need,” Sachin says. Requests started coming in, and he began distributing face shields locally, as well as mailing them across the country.
While his information technology job at TIAA Bank and his twins continue to keep him busy, Sachin has found time to provide about 350 shields and more than a thousand “ear saver,” straps that help hold surgical masks in place.
“I’m glad to be able to help in my non-medical, nerdy way,” he says.
Vinod Kumar, a TIAA associate from Charlotte, N.C., wanted to work alongside others in his community who were creating urgently needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers treating patients with COVID-19.
“As an engineer, I was feeling restless seeing the challenges and shortages healthcare professionals are facing,” he says.
He began volunteering through Charlotte MEDI (Medical Emergency Device Innovation), a grassroots movement making and delivering protective face shields in the Charlotte area. Vinod quickly found his niche with others who were using their 3D printers to produce PPE.
“A few days back, I joined our very own Charlotte Maker’s Community in 3D printing of PPE for healthcare professionals serving the COVID-19 patients,” he says. As of May 5, Vinod had helped MEDI produce and deliver more than 100,000 face shields.
For Vinod, TIAA’s culture of giving played an important role in his decision to get involved. Several of his TIAA co-workers felt the same way and stepped up to help buy materials for the cause.
“I am happy and proud to play a tiny, tiny role to serve the community,” he says.
As coronavirus took hold this year, Brandon Bach could feel its impact on everyone around him—both in his role with TIAA Bank, and as the fire chief of the Upper Saddle River fire department. To him, some of the most heartbreaking were the cancellations of countless birthday celebrations among his home town’s youngest citizens. Never failing to recognize an opportunity to help, Brandon stepped up to respond to the “birthday 911.”
Advertising on Facebook, Brandon’s department offered up “firetruck birthdays”—their biggest truck would drive through the birthday child’s neighborhood, lights flashing and sirens blaring in celebration of the special day. They have hosted well over 100 parades and have many more on the calendar.
Inspired by the heroic actions of the 9/11 first responders he witnessed as a New Jersey teenager, Brandon’s call to a life of service continues to move him to ask, “What can I do?” during times of crisis. Noting the sense of hope he’s tried to provide for others during the pandemic, he concludes, “We may not be doing much directly to stop the spread of the virus, but we are doing our part for our community.”
Jeff Carlin usually finds himself partnering with his northern California clients, helping them pursue their financial goals. These days, he’s forged another very special partnership, and the goals couldn’t be more important.
Jeff has joined forces with the Cops and Gobblers program. This local nonprofit of police and fire staff work with other community organizations to identify families in need, providing them with food gift cards. Through a Nuveen Impact Grant, which champions causes supported by Nuveen clients, Jeff has helped to provide critical program funding.
During the pandemic, the need has gotten even greater with the rise of out-of-work restaurant and service staff and gardeners in the area who had been living paycheck to paycheck.
Under the Cops and Gobblers program, families don’t have to wait in line, drive to a food bank or submit any paperwork.
“That’s part of the beauty of it—it’s simple and efficient,” Jeff says. “This grant will have a big and immediate impact. It provides support in real time to households in need.”