Bolen, the digital arts teacher and head of the Glowforge Club at Lakeshore High School in St. Clair Shores, is on a mission to save the ears of as many local health care workers as she can with ear savers she’s making on behalf of her club.
Laser cutters, such as Glowforge, have the capability to cut out computer-made designs in glass, hardwood, soft metal and glass with hairline precision. Thanks to a grant she wrote, Lakeshore received the 3D laser cutter at the beginning of the school year.
“You can pretty much make anything,” she says.
When the makers of Glowforge found that health care workers needed support they could provide, they sprang into action with their #SaveTwoMillionEars effort to motivate Glowforge users across the country to step up and make ear savers for community workers.
“Masks weren’t designed to be worn all day, every day. (Ear savers) take the pressure off the ears to be more comfortable,” Bolen says. “The (ear saver) design itself was designed by Glowforge designers for people like me to help — I basically I downloaded the design and I was able to print them, cut them out, get in touch with people and deliver them.”
So far, Bolen — who is nine months pregnant with her first child — has made about 625 ear savers using both club and out-of-pocket materials.
Each ear saver she makes is made of non-flexible plexiglass and comes with an engraving that says “Made with Love by the Lakeshore Glowforge Club.”
Of the 625 ear savers made, Bolen has donated 500 to various health care facilities within 20 miles of her Macomb County home.
“I just donated 140 to the hospital in Mount Clemens and 50 to a nursing home in St. Clair Shores,” she says. “The rest have been smaller orders from health care workers that have seen posts on social media.”
And she shows no signs of slowing down.
After posting about her efforts, the Lakeshore Foundation, which gave her the original grant to buy the Glowforge, has awarded her an additional $200 to buy more materials to help her reach her goal of 1,000 ear savers.
“It’s hard enough to be in that situation, helping people, sacrificing your own safety and health for others and I think the least we can do as community members is help those people be more comfortable,” Bolen says. “When you come together to help how you can, it make situations like this easier – support and compassion makes things easier in times like these.”