John Schirrippa, an East Hampton native, is a Knowledge Manager for United States Cyber Command and has worked for the Defense Department since 2004. John, EHHS Class of 2000, is a trainer and operational member with the Annapolis – Anne Arundel County Community Emergency Response Team while holding a Master of Science degree in Emergency Services Management. He is the founder of a nonprofit project called Unity Bands that had set a goal to donate $10,000 to COVID-19 response and research. At the time he wasn’t sure what to expect.
Now Unity Bands, is an all-volunteer project, selling customized wristbands and other branded merchandise that exceeded the original goals. John said he picked this cause because, COVID is the biggest problem of our time. You can’t throw enough resources at our front line heroes and researchers.” Then he added, “At the same time, one month after I launched Unity Bands, my cousin Peter passed away due to the virus. I’m doing this in honor of him. It’s amazing what we collectively put together over the last few months, the donations benefit local COVID-19 funds including New York- Presbyterian.”
Reportedly more than 2,000 bands have shipped to 14 U.S. states, as well as overseas to the United Kingdom, Brazil and Italy. Shirrippa believes wider reach is on the horizon. He and his team partnered with local business owners and civic groups to host an array of fundraisers including a Bowie Baysox Unity Bands giveaway.
After the idea for Unity Bands came to Schirrippa in March 2020 , things fell into place. John as stay-at-home dad, processed orders as they started coming in. Schirrippa said he worked with a Brazilian graphics designer to create the memorable, green Unity Bands logo representing the nonprofit’s ethos: hope, fight and unity.
As he explained in detail, “Hope: No matter how bad things seem to get, there is always hope, and it is hope that will carry us through to the other side. Fight: We are at war with COVID-19 and there is still more fighting to be done. We must continue to fight this disease, and that means taking proper precautions all the time. Unity: We are all in this together, which is the reasoning for the green color.
Now that the initial donations is met, Unity Bands will continue the effort. “Even though the U.S. is drastically different now than in early December 2020 with life returning to normal for many, the invisible threat is still moving around us. The variants are a problem, there is a nationwide nursing shortage, and secondary illnesses caused by COVID-19 are being studied. There’s going to be a long and nasty tail associated with this pandemic. And as we exit this dark tunnel, I am reminded that a lot of people did not make it to the other side,” he stated on the Unity Bands Facebook page, “We will have a bigger impact. Make a direct donation to help support our mission. Unity Bands is an all-volunteer, nonprofit project, selling custom wristbands and branded merchandise, with all proceeds going to COVID-19 response and research. The Unity Bands vision is to eradicate COVID-19 from the face of the planet. We are proud to partner with NewYork-Presbyterian and support the COVID-19 Patient Care Fund. We donated more than $10,000 to our causes and Unity Bands are in 14 U.S. states, the United Kingdom, and Brazil. The Unity Bands goal is $100,000 in donations by the end of 2021.
John added, “The Patient Care Fund supports general patient care needs including the purchasing of ventilators and personal protective equipment such as masks, the hiring of additional clinical staff, capacity expansion, and clinical research. Unity Bands is proud to support this important work, and we hope you will join us. www.unitybands.org
He closed by saying, “Several things in the works are a one-year strategic plan and a 501(c)(3) application. Partnerships with community-focused people and having more volunteers will be vital to our success. Thank you for your support.”