Amanda Twining knows that the key to surviving any crisis is for those that can help to find ways to do so.
It’s a lesson that the owner of Giffin Rentals learned during the Thomas Fire and Montecito debris flow.
Mrs. Twining lives in Montecito with her husband, Travis, and their daughter, and woke up the morning of the debris flow with their friend at the sheriff’s department telling them there was no way in or out.
Giffin Rentals is Goleta’s oldest business and buys, sells and rents all kinds of construction equipment, including excavators, backhoes, and trucks, from Malibu to Paso Robles.
When she realized the situation, Mrs. Twinning immediately put her resources to work and got her Giffin equipment through the debris flow. She had the trucks and equipment left with keys in their ignitions around Montecito, and first responders were able to use them to get their own equipment into the neighborhood.
“I know it helped a lot of people so it’s something that I’m very proud of,” said Mrs. Twinning. “I just feel the need to help out always. When you’re fortunate and you’re part of a community that you care about, I feel it’s just in my heart to give back.”
That need to support her home in a time of crisis didn’t end with the debris flow.
Thanks to the efforts of Mrs. Twining and her Territory Manager Kurt Bueche, Giffin Rentals is donating 10,000 cloth surgical masks to organizations and agencies around town.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Mrs. Twining knew she wanted to help, but wasn’t sure how a construction equipment company could help with a public health crisis.
“It’s kind of a weird time because you don’t know where to start when you’re trying to help. The mudslides are one thing because you can move equipment in to move debris out of the way so first responders can get in. That’s a pretty simple thing to figure out, but when it’s a disease, we’re not doctors, we’re not nurses, so what do we do to help? You can donate money to the Red Cross, but does it stay in the community?” said Mr. Twining.
Eventually, they saw the widespread need for personal protective equipment affecting everyone from postal workers to ER doctors.
“First we saw all the stuff in the news, then we started talking to customers and (they) were asking, ‘Do you guys know where we can get any of these masks? Homeowners want us to wear masks or the job sites require us to wear masks,’” said Mr. Bueche.
“Back in the day I did a lot of import and export, things like that. I have a lot of contacts, supply chain contacts, and so I thought I’d make a couple calls.”
Thankfully, Mr. Bueche’s contacts were able to help them out, and Giffin got its hands on 5,000 masks, with 5,000 more arriving today.
So far, Giffin has handed out most of the first 5,000. They’ve been able to donate masks to healthcare professionals in Lompoc, the Santa Barbara Police Department, the Sheriff’s Office, the Bucket Brigade, and even longtime customers who now need masks on jobsites.
“It’s just a privilege when we can come up with an idea and put it into action and make it happen,” said Mrs. Twining.
“The fire department, the police department, and the sheriff’s department are all really dear to my heart. My father-in-law is a retired police officer. They’re just so brave and they’ve done so much for our community and ran towards things that other people would run away from. I just have so much respect for them and we try to look out for how we can help whenever we can.”
Although it took a while to figure out where the greatest need in the county was, and how Giffin could help, the Twinings said it was simply talking to their many friends and neighbors on the frontlines that lead them to the right people.
“You just kind of look around and say, ‘Well, if the doctor’s don’t have enough masks, the police don’t have enough masks and they’re out on the front lines and they need to protect themselves, I guess that’s where you start!’” said Mr. Twining.
The Twinings and employees at Gaffin have been keeping their eyes peeled for any one else that is struggling to find PPE. The couple does business with Community West Bank, and handed over a box of 50 masks when they realized staff didn’t have enough of their own.
“They had a lot of traffic in there supporting the local businesses with the PPP Loans and they didn’t have the protective equipment that they needed,” said Mrs. Twining.
“I think that’s one thing that’s really tugged at my heartstrings, how different the frontline is on this pandemic than it has been in the past. The frontline is now grocery store workers and gas station attendants and the people at the bank and the farm workers that are keeping the food on our table. I’m just so grateful for that.”
Mrs. Twining and Mr. Bueche will continue to look for opportunities to donate the masks they can get their hands on, and are speaking to contacts about securing hand-sanitizer and disinfectant wipes for donation as well.
“We want our community to be healthy and safe and everybody to get through it together,” said Mr. Twining.
“I think that’s the key,” said Mrs. Twining. “Those that can help out and pitch in and do something, if we just all dig a little deeper during this time we can help each other out.”