Meet Ashraf Ibrahim, LSSNY’s Director of Procurement. Typically, he purchases almost everything for our agency, including supplies, equipment, and clothing for the children in our care. These days, he is also in charge of locating personal protective equipment, cleaning materials, and other items necessary to address the coronavirus pandemic. We need these highly sought-after products for our maintenance, custodial, and janitorial staff and for our clients, such as the children in the Early LIFE program, unaccompanied minors, and residents of our supportive housing.
For the past two weeks, how Ash has conducted business has changed dramatically. Usually with one click he sends a purchase order to one of our regular vendors and receives the supplies the next day. Now, most of the vendors are out of hand sanitizers, wipes, protective clothing, N95 masks, and thermometers. He calls and emails them every day to check on inventory.
Ash is especially grateful to vendors and others who have gone out of their way for our agency, like the owner of Mormax who made a special trip to his stockroom, where he located 24 safety goggles for our custodial workers. Weeks Lerman found masks in their staff room and offered to help us find third-party vendors who carry essential items for the pandemic. Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota offered to help if they had items we needed. One of our legal services employees went into her local CVS to buy alcohol wipes, which were available only in stores.
Good relationships are key, never more so than during a crisis. “They have to not just be vendors,” says Ash. “They have to be friends too. We’ve been working together almost five years now. We have a really good relationship. Sometimes they put me in front, even though I’m not their top client.”
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