Local Heroes: How the Community Has Empowered Us

by | Apr 29, 2020 | Blog | 0 comments

The generosity of local heroes, who have come forward to support our mission, has built the foundation for The Ventilator Project’s success.


Your support network is the solid ground from which you can propel yourself upwards.”


– Anna Barnes


At the end of yet another 18-hour workday, Nick Domnisch cracked open a Harpoon Brewery beer and joined the rest of the team in the lab, who huddled intensely around a table.

It was late on a Sunday night, and everyone’s eyes were fixed on the newest ventilator prototype that lay before them. The group continued working tirelessly to finalize the prototype’s design and prepare it for manufacturing, many hands moving briskly around the machinery as the night wore on.

The cold beer Nick had opened – a primary source of fuel during these late-night work sessions – graced the Ventilator Project’s on-site fridges due to the prodigious generosity of a local brewery. Over the past month, Harpoon Brewery, an employee-owned business located only a block away from our office, has been supplying our team with beers and hard seltzers to help boost morale as we work around the clock.

Harpoon is one of the many generous businesses that has shown us unbridled support as we’ve embarked on a mission to combat the global ventilator shortage. We have built partnerships with over ten businesses since our founding, however, we don’t like to think of them as just partners. To us, they’re heroes, and an essential part of forwarding our cause.

Nick, who entered the project as an FDA liaison and has assisted with these partnerships, remembers how quickly Harpoon was willing to lend us a helping hand.

“I was driving down the street one day and I realized they were one block away,” Nick recalled. “Then I just called the general number and told them what we were doing. I left a message, and they called me back three days later and said ‘We really love what you are doing and we’d like to help any way that we can.’”

As the food and beverage industry is facing unprecedented business implications due to slowing down or halting of operations, lending a hand to our cause may not be an option for some.



Nevertheless, Harpoon Brewery has shown us tremendous support during these trying times and their generosity has made a significant impact on the individuals at The Ventilator Project.

With social lives on hold, workdays often surpassing 12 or more hours every day of the week, something as simple as a cold drink at the end of the night while answering those last few emails or overviewing the days work can be revitalizing. 

“The team at The Ventilator Project has stepped up in a major way, working around the clock to try to produce ventilators to help combat the shortage,” said Dan Kenary, CEO and co-founder of Mass. Bay Brewing Company, who labels Harpoon products. “We wanted to offer up our beer and hard seltzer to these tremendous volunteers as a small way to say thank you for helping the community during this critical time.”

Another defining characteristic of our project is the exemplary support we’ve received from volunteers. Since our founding, over 200 volunteers have devoted their time and expertise to making our mission become a reality. For some, like Nick, it meant dropping everything and moving to Boston on a whim. Our project is fueled by many factors – caffeine and Harpoon beer to name a few – but nothing would be possible without hundreds of bright minds coming together. We needed boots on the ground, and we needed somewhere to house volunteers coming to Boston.


Thatch has provided us with a crucial solution to our problem. The short-term rental real estate company has graciously offered our volunteers fourteen private rooms in one of their co-living spaces. On top of providing us with places to live, they are providing regular cleaning and maintenance to the facility.

“The commitment to something so relevant that the entire world is pulling for it at the same time – you were a conduit for us to help out,” Brent Berc, founding partner of Thatch, explained to us. “We sort of jumped on your bandwagon and we felt really good about it.”

The ventilator shortage had quickly become an urgent issue across the world. Every second wasted could be a possible life at stake, and Brent knew this was a cause he wanted to support.

“We’re supporting every cause we can that is relevant. At the time, ventilators were in the news and it seemed like the biggest and best way to help the world. It was the right time and the right place,” Brent told us. “Also, the engineering side of it is what’s fascinating to myself and my partner. There were some nuances with your business that spoke to us. We’re in an educational and technology-based city, so it felt like a good fit.”

While Harpoon and Thatch have helped on the local front, we have received immense support from all of our corporate sponsors. Latham & Watkins, one of the leading law firms in the country, has provided us with partner-level lawyers and FDA assistance. Mass Challenge, Mitre, and Soft Robotics have given us invaluable industry knowledge and access to their expansive networks. A Mann Lake employee drove ten hours round trip on a day’s notice to give us bee bellows that were critical to our original prototype design.


The generosity just keeps rolling in, and local heroes continue jumping in the ring to do their part in the fight against COVID-19.

Wayfair, a furniture and home-goods company, just offered to match their employee donations to our cause in addition to making a substantial company-wide donation. Chip Ganassi Racing, an American auto racing organization, is rapidly manufacturing some of our metal components. Hawke Commercial Filming is the reason we have this video. Just in the past week, Automation Tooling Systems Inc., Visual Knowledge Share Ltd., and ClearMotion have joined in to support the project. And without the incredible contributions of MassRobotics, we wouldn’t even have an office space to bring the bright minds we have together.



These acts of kindness and support are the driving factor in what continuously propels us forward.

We understand that no contribution, no matter what size, is ever wasted. It has been incredibly inspiring to see people, again and again, act in the most selfless ways. Individual acts of support may be thought of as a raindrop, large or small, but when they hit the water, they create a ripple that is felt through our entire business.

It takes a community of people and organizations to catalyze something that can change the world. Without the generosity of our partners, achieving our mission would only be a dream, not a reality.

Restocking the fridge with yet another delivery from Harpoon, Nick eloquently summed up the impact of these contributions.

“What these partnerships do is act as the glue that takes our fragmented parts and helps bridge them together so that we can work as one cohesive unit.”

To all of our ‘local heroes’- we cannot thank you enough. Your kindness is what holds us together.

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For any companies or organizations that wish to contribute to The Ventilator Project, please email us at info@