Everyday Heroes

Home Away From Home: Why These Workers Self-Quarantined Together For 3 Weeks

They're finally getting to go home. Why their return to the 'real' world is bittersweet.

I don't think I'm alone in saying that the past few weeks have been a little rough.

Like pretty much everyone else on the planet, I've been self-quarantining at home with my family, only leaving for walks around the block or short trips to the grocery store. While the extended time together has been nice, it's safe to say that if I ever have to see another episode of the "PJ Masks" cartoon after this is over, it will be too soon.

But after hearing about the 46 employees who volunteered to self-quarantine together for 28 days at a manufacturing plant outside Philadelphia, my situation suddenly doesn't seem all that bad.

Braskem America in Marcus Hook, PA is one of the nation's top producers of polypropylene, a material used to make protective gear for healthcare workers. WPVI-TV

The workers spent over three weeks together at the Braskem American plant in Marcus Hook, PA. The team unanimously agreed to take on the non-stop job, leaving their families behind for almost a month while they worked at the plant to make sure there wasn't an interruption in production.

The plant makes polypropylene, a raw material used to make N95 masks, medical gowns and other protective gear. Employees knew if they didn't keep at it, some people on the front lines might not have the gear they need to protect themselves.

The crews rotated to work 12-hour shifts so that there was never an interruption in production. WPVI-TV

While at Braskem, the crew rotated 12-hour shifts. To thank them for their sacrifice, the company gave the workers a pay increase, along with beds, kitchens, groceries, internet access and iPads to help them keep in touch with their loved ones while they were away.

On Sunday, the workers finally got to clock out and go home. However, it wasn't lost on them that they were going back to a much different world then the one they left almost a month ago.

"We've almost been the lucky ones, I'll say for the last 28 days because I haven't had to stand 6 feet away from somebody. I haven't had to put a mask on." Joe Boyce, the operations shift supervisor, told WPVI-TV.

After almost a month of working non-stop, the workers finally clocked out after their last shift on Sunday. WPVI-TV

The only contact the employees had with the outside world during the quarantine was the occasional drive-by visit from their family members who honked their horns and held signs to show their support.

The only contact the workers had with the outside world was when their families drove by to honk their horns and show their support. WPVI-TV

But, for Boyce and his team, all of the hard work was worth it.

"We're truly honored to be able to give back and support people we will never meet in some way," Boyce said. "All the first responders, all the people on the front lines, we thank you. That's what makes our job easy to do."

What an amazing sacrifice made by the workers to help keep our country's healthcare workers safe. We salute all of the employees who made this incredible effort happen!

How can you start something good?

Inspired by the Braskem team's sacrifice?

You may not be able to mass produce polypropylene, but you can support our nation's healthcare heroes in other, smaller ways.

You can make your own protective masks or face guards and donate them to front-line workers who desperately need them. There are tons of tutorials (like this one) with free mask-making patterns online. Check out Mask Match for information on where and how to donate them.

Another way to say thank you to healthcare workers is to participate in your town's nightly 'clap' to acknowledge those fighting on the front-lines in your community. The #Solidarityat8 applause happens at 8 pm in cities around the world every night.

Let's #StartSomethingGood together.

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