Payson making Covid-19 masks. 

Mr. Rogers always said, “When I was a boy, and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

Payson McNett is a helper. Last week, the Cabrillo College Director of Digital Fabrication detailed his efforts to create face shields and face masks from his perch in the college’s Makerspace technology hub. This week, we learn more about McNett’s distinctive efforts, and how you can help.

Press Banner: How many masks or other PPE have you created since you began this effort? Are you working on this project on your own, or do you have elves helping you?

Payson McNett: I have made and distributed about 400 face shields and another 100 face masks since I started this about three weeks ago. I have another 400 just about ready to deliver to the Santa Cruz County Health Department. The first two weeks I was (working) solo but late last week I got two helpers cleared by the college as essential.

PB: Where are you getting your supplies from? Are you still accepting donations?

 PM: I had a stock pile of these materials, some at home and some in the Fab Lab. We are almost out of that material and we put in another order last week that should arrive soon. The college is supporting this endeavor as well as citizens capable of making donations to the Cabrillo Foundation and Digital Fabrication program. Yes, we are still accepting donations and we will need to rebuild all of our 3D printers and lasers by the end of this effort. I don't see less than another month of production but time will tell.

PB: Are you distributing your masks locally, or are you taking orders from outside Santa Cruz County?

PM: We are only donating them locally as of now. We have been delivering them to local nonprofits and to the county health department, and we were recently contacted by the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s office, public works, and by several assisted living facilities.

PB: Have you ever done anything like this before? Your story is nothing short of inspiring!

PM: I have done quite a lot of philanthropic work over the years donating time, money and energy to my community including volunteering my time and energy to build the Fab Lab in the art department at Cabrillo College which was what allowed me to provide this service to the community. But I have never done anything that seems quite so immediately impactful and urgent. It has been rewarding and exhausting I wouldn't have it any other way.

For prototypes or help with designs, please contact Payson McNett at To make a donation, please donate through the Cabrillo College Foundation at, and specify that the donations are for the Digital Fabrication Program.

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