For Columbia Southern University alumnus John Schirrippa, 2020 was a pivotal year. In addition to earning a master’s in emergency services management, Schirrippa also founded a non-profit organization focused on an issue that disrupted the world, COVID-19.
The idea came to Schirrippa in March 2020 as stay-at-home orders started going into effect.
“The gravity of the situation hit me when the streets cleared, highway signs urged people to stay at home and office parking lots emptied,” said Schirrippa. “I felt that what we, as a society, had worked so hard for was all in jeopardy; threatened to be taken away by an invisible threat.”
As the pandemic made its way across the globe, Schirrippa felt that as quickly as the virus could spread, so could unity.
“If you look at the tragedies of our time including natural and manmade disasters, the local communities generally rally together well. People help each other, differences are put aside and resources pour in.”
In November 2020, Schirrippa’s vision became a reality as he launched Unity Bands. This organization was designed to support COVID-19 response and research efforts and to improve community morale during the pandemic. Schirrippa says the green Unity Band logo represents the non-profit’s ethos: hope, fight and unity.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Unity Bands has donated nearly $11,000 to organizations such as the University of Maryland Medical Center and DCH Medical. As of July 2021, Schirrippa’s non-profit has shipped over 2,000 unity band bracelets to 14 states and four international countries with a wider reach on the horizon.
To learn more about Unity Bands and their COVID-19 relief and research efforts, visit UnityBands.org.