COVID19 has changed the world in which we live. For the last few months, the majority of us have been working from home in sweatpants, and, if we have a Zoom meeting, a nice top or sweater. As I, Karin Beyer, Community Liaison at OCF, sat in multiple Zoom meetings with nonprofits and community businesses, I started to hear about the growing concerns for the needs of personal protective equipment (PPE), and I knew that the OCF needed to take a proactive stance in helping. After talking with our Grant committee I reached out to area leaders: Gaylord Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Merchants Association and the Otsego County to form a committee to help with the safe and smooth reopening of the community we all love. The first step was a survey administered by the Chamber of Commerce to learn what the businesses and other organizations needed. Thank you to all who participated.

The next step was the discussion of common branding and with that, Otsego Together was born. Then we reviewed the survey and the top two items shown as highest priority were: all information on reopening accessible in one source and access to PPE products, such as hand sanitizer and masks. That’s when the leg work began. The foundation reached out to multiple distilleries and business contacts to procure hand sanitizer, but both the cost and delivery time didn’t work within our parameters. We were lucky to have Brandie Meisner of M & M Excavating, who sits on the OCF grant committee, introduce us via email to Tyler Schramm at AFT, Inc. in Jackson, Michigan. We were so thankful for the introduction as Tyler worked with us on both cost and quick turnaround so that hand sanitizer and disinfectant would be delivered to us within a week. Masks were easier to find; we reached out to Casey at White Birch Outfitters and within a week, the Otsego Together logo was on 500 masks. Starting the day before Northern Michigan reopened, OCF staff began hand delivering PPE supplies to nonprofits and masks to small businesses in Gaylord, Vanderbilt, Johannesburg and Elmira.

“The PPE given to the Gaylord Blue Devil Wellness Center will allow our health center staff to see students from this community safely, and provide each student with a level of comfort knowing they are being protected.” Nicole Montgomery, Health Department of Northwest Michigan.

“This is really cool…Thank you for thinking of Paul’s Pub in Johannesburg!” Lynn Tutthill, Paul’s Pub friendly employee.

“Woolybuggers appreciates the PPE items. I have the hand sanitizer on my counter that customers are using and saying how much they appreciate that it is their for their use, and I’m also constantly using it throughout the day. The disinfectant is great for spraying down counter tops, door handles, etc. Both of these items are a great way of making us all feel comfortable and safe.” Lynn, Woolybuggers.

Otsego County also worked hard on the “One Stop Shop” feature of their website to help with information for a safe reopening. Otsego Together was created to assist our local businesses in “getting back to business” by providing tools and resources to the Otsego County community.

Otsego County has expanded its One-Stop-Shop Business Center Webpage to include an easy to navigate COVID19 section to help your business get BACK to business. It now includes:

  • Business toolkits
  • Sample health screening forms
  • A sample preparedness and response plan
  • PPE resources
  • Workplace safety signage
  • And more

The COVID19 Response Fund of the Otsego Community Foundation is happy to sponsor this project that will impact so many nonprofits, businesses, employees and shoppers. If you would like to make a donation into this fund, which has granted over $75,000 into the community so far, please click here.

If you have any questions, please contact Karin Beyer at

If your company needs your own 55 gallon drum of either hand sanitizer or disinfectant, please contact Tyler Schramm at AFT, Inc., (517) 796-9737.

For Otsego Together masks, please contact Casey at White Birch Outfitters, (989) 732-2223 for large qualities or for availability of small quantities.

If you would like to donate to the COVID-19 Response Fund please visit the OCF COVID-19 Giving Page.