OTTAWA -- When Darrel O’Shaughnessy got a call from the Arnprior Health and Family Unit asking for help gearing up to fight COVID-19, he sprang into action.

He got fellow members of the Arnprior—McNab-Braeside Men’s Shed on the phone and asked if they were up for a project.

“I reached out to our guys, and right away if they said: ‘If it will help keep our health care workers safe, consider it done,” said O’Shaughnessy, 74, a founding member of the Men’s Shed and chair of the Arnprior Seniors Council.

O’Shaughnessy and four other volunteers got to work. Within less than a week, they had built nine new protective screens for Arnprior Regional Health, the Arnprior Health and Family Unit and the Petawawa family health teams.

The plexiglass equipment provides protection for health care workers in screening areas as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to spread.

The team completed the project while observing social distancing rules, with five workstations spread out around the large workshop.

Arnprior Glass cut and donated the plexiglass for the structures.

“It was a real team effort,” O’Shaugnessy said.

Karen Simpson, executive director of the Arnprior Health and Family Unit, said she was not surprised at the fast pace.

“I have a lot of faith in these guys. They’re pretty amazing,” she said.

The new personal protective equipment means other protective gear is freed up for use elsewhere, she said.

“Sometimes it takes a village, and in this case it was a community,” she added. “Without that support we would have been stuck as to where we go next.”

The Men’s Shed, affiliated with Arnprior Regional Health, is a place where senior men meet up to socialize, help each other and also complete community projects.

Its members have built countless items for the community including picnic tables, planter boxes, lending libraries, and bird feeders.

“The whole idea is to make sure that our senior men in particular remain productive, healthy, active and engaged,” O’Shaughnessy said. “We just want them to maintain an active body and mind.”

O’Shaughnessy said the guys at the shop are ready to step up again if more protective equipment is needed.

“I know that we’re going to get another call, and we will go back in again to get the job done. Whatever we can do to help.

“The whole idea is to give back to the community.”