In it together: Getting critical PPE to Harlem United

Kimberly Paulk
Project N95
Published in
3 min readJan 5, 2021


Harlem United medical workers standing outside the clinic.
Photo: Harlem United

Written by — Rachel Pierson, Project N95

“Community health centers and small doctors’ offices, AIDS clinics and homeless shelters are struggling with a scarcity of protective gear to buffer workers from harm,” the Washington Post reported in late November. Even as larger medical institutions have been able to stabilize their supply lines, many smaller organizations are struggling to obtain and afford necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, gowns, and gloves.

Project N95 has focused on addressing this gap in the market, working with funders and frontline organizations to ensure that healthcare workers are able to serve their patients and clients safely. In October, we were connected to Harlem United, a New York-based nonprofit that has provided healthcare, housing, and hot meals to thousands of people in Harlem and across New York who are most in need.

Founded in the depths of the AIDS crisis, Harlem United has helped its clients weather difficult times before, and rose to the occasion as the Covid pandemic swept through New York. Yet like many of the community-based organizations that serve the most vulnerable Americans, they have also faced shortages of necessary supplies that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

When Harlem United was connected to us through Angel Flight East, Project N95 Executive Director Anne Miller reached out quickly to find out what masks their frontline workers had already been fit tested for — the Halyard 46727. She then began a search for 300 of the masks, the number needed to cover personnel at Harlem United’s Veterans Housing program for approximately six months. However, these masks remain in short supply, and there are few spare products lying around. Anne’s outreach to suppliers kept coming up empty, and facing a difficult market, Harlem United decided to settle for another style of mask.

Project N95 prepared to order the new masks, but as that process moved along, Anne continued to pound the (figurative) pavement, reaching out to suppliers in search of the Halyard 46727. After two weeks of searching, she finally hit upon a match. A supplier was able to provide two boxes of the elusive Halyard 46727s. With 210 masks per box, that would provide enough supply to last Harlem United more than the six months they had originally hoped for.

To cover the cost of the masks, Project N95 was able to turn to one of our key sponsors, GORUCK. Based out of Jacksonville, FL, this rucking gear company watched the early Covid crisis unfold up north. In response, the GORUCK rucking community pulled together and created a fund to help pay for PPE for frontline workers in New York. Their donation supported both the cost of the masks as well as shipping, which is often as high as 30 percent of the cost of the PPE for small orders like this one.

The new Halyard 46727s are now in use at Harlem United’s Veterans Housing program, helping keep a vulnerable population protected. “As you well know, populations in areas that already lack access to healthcare suffer more in times of crisis than do populations in financially privileged areas, with greater negative repercussions on these communities,” Harlem United’s Mari Eva Mendes said. These masks will allow “us to keep our staff, patients, and communities safer, ensuring that they get the care they deserve.”

Project N95 remains committed to working with key partners to ensure that every member of the healthcare community is outfitted with high-quality, medical grade protective equipment. If you are a healthcare or frontline organization in need of PPE, please visit our website at or reach out to us at

Learn more about Project N95 and donate here to help make sure everyone has access to the PPE they need to keep them safe.