Parkcrest Dental Group was one recipient. Tiffani Killingsworth, Parkcrest’s office administrator, expresses deep gratitude on behalf of their practice. Shields from O-STEAM were the first protection they could get, she says. “There was so much unknown and so much heightened anxiety about opening back up and we wanted to make sure we had protection for our staff and patients. But we couldn’t find anything,” she recalls. “It filled a need when we were scurrying, trying to decide how to open our practice safely, and the materials O-STEAM provided were excellent quality.” In addition to shields, O-STEAM collaborators made sneeze guard screens for Parkcrest receptionists. They are such high quality, Killingworth says, the practice is frequently asked where they got them. “They helped us open our doors,” she says.
Addressing the pandemic with hands-on solutions fits the nonprofit’s mission to showcase STEAM-related initiatives in the Ozarks by industry manufacturing, lower- and higher-education institutions and through after-school and informal education, Wilson says. In 2015, after holding a successful STEAM summit in Nixa, O-STEAM joined the international Maker Faire organization and began hosting local Maker Faires. The most recent — its seventh — was held in October.
If not for its army of makers, O-STEAM couldn’t have provided PPE to healthcare workers at the start of the pandemic when shortages put people at risk. “It’s humbling to see how the maker community is coming together for the help and benefit of our critical workers,” Wilson says. “I’m just so proud that O-STEAM was able to write this grant and push it forward, and that the CFO took a risk on us. It all paid off tremendously.”