Menomonee Falls dad is on a one-man mission to find N95 and surgical masks for his daughter and other healthcare workers
All it took was one text message for Jeff Hare, the father of a healthcare worker, to embark on a one-man mission to track down masks for his daughter.
“I got a message from my wife. She said Nikki was at work and didn’t have a mask and felt vulnerable,” said Hare, who lives in Menomonee Falls and works as a computer numerical control machinist at ProtoTek.
Hare then went straight to his basement to look for a N95 respirator mask. A machinist by trade, he thought he might have a few in his basement.
When he didn’t find any, a scavenger hunt of sorts then began.
He started reaching out to friends, family members and people he knew from work. His uncle in West Bend had 15 N95 masks and a full face shield. So Hare drove to West Bend to pick them up.
A buddy found two at his house and dropped them off. Another friend had 100 surgical masks. Hare drove to get those, too. He even made the one-hour, round-trip drive to Campbellsport to pick up half a dozen N95 masks from a long-time friend.
In less than a week, he has tracked down roughly 125 masks.
“I don’t feel like I’m on a mission. It’s just something that makes sense to me,” said Hare from his home on Sunday. “I’m just trying to give her and other healthcare workers a chance. Otherwise, it’s like sending them to war without a gun.”
His daughter, Nikki Michler, works as a nurse extern on the cardiac/telemetry unit at the Aurora West Allis Medical Center. She graduates in August with a masters degree in nursing from Marquette University.
“Honestly he is the kindest man I know,” said Nikki. “He is literally driving an hour to pick up a few masks at a time. He is doing everything he can to keep me and other workers protected.”
Over the weekend, Nikki got a call from her dad. He was at her house with a bag of masks. Careful to practice social distancing, Nikki said her dad stayed in this car and tossed the bag to her through the window.
“Our family has always been a family of huggers,” Nikki said. “When I saw him I just wanted to give him a hug … but I can’t.”
Nikki plans to bring the masks to her hospital’s donation site.
Hare may have made his first drop-off but he’s not done yet.
He said people should look in their basements, garages or any work areas. Even if someone only finds one or two masks “get them to a healthcare professional. You can save lives.”
“I just ask everybody I know. I’ve got a neighbor kitty-corner from me that does woodworking. I haven’t asked him yet, but I will,” Hare said. “You never know where the next pot of gold will be.”