Note: The above photo of Ambar Capoor was taken during a static shot. Airbags are disabled and the car is immobilized.
If you are an under-the-radar organization in need of protective face shields and earpieces, you can count on Local 600 1st AC Ambar Capoor for help.
And if you can’t find Capoor, not to worry. Capoor is a creative researcher and will probably find you. His latest targets: underserved Native American reservations.
“It’s great that people are contributing,” he said. “But it takes a little bit of effort to find out where the stuff really needs to go.”
A self-described anti-union man at the start of his career, Capoor changed his view the second he attended his first meeting six years ago. “I was sold, completely converted,” he said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the entertainment industry, Capoor, an alternate on 600’s National Executive Board and a member of the Western Region Council, knew he wanted to help. He bought a 3D printer and started making protective face shields and ear pieces as fast as he could produce them, initially hooking up with the 3D Agents of Shield.
Then he began doing some research and learned that Native American tribes, like Black and Latino communities, were being hit disproportionately hard by the virus and that medical centers on tribal lands were lacking in equipment. So Capoor redirected his shield-making efforts to fill orders for tribes in Arizona, New Mexico and Montana, often shipping off orders of 200 to 300 at a time. He currently has a request from a Zuni tribe for 500 shields which, he admits, will be a tall order.
“I’m having to ration how much I can spend on one group,” Capoor said. “There’s another group called Operation Make that has an incredibly easy database set up online and you can see who needs what and donate based on that. I’m looking specifically for lower-income, harder-hit areas like south central L.A. or areas close to me that I know need the help but are not able to get it.”
Capoor’s civic mindedness is a combination of meticulous planning with a dash of spontaneity. He has contacted the International Medical Corps to find local hospitals in need of supplies, set up a WhatsApp group to find seniors in need, and loaded up his car to distribute bags of food in the Studio City/North Hollywood area. He recently dropped off a jumbo-sized pizza from Big Mama’s and Papa’s at a local fire station where he knew the personnel had been overwhelmed after being deployed during the civic protests.
He has been helped in the face shield and earpiece production by a group of donors who contributed through a GoFundMe site. Capoor set a goal of $500 which he reached in less than 24 hours. Capoor estimates than 75% of his expenses are covered this way and he has made a spreadsheet to show anybody who asks how the money is being used and where the equipment is going. He also asks the people who receive the equipment to send back pictures to show they are being used.
One order came with a special request that Capoor was happy to fill. In Montana, the Crow Tribe’s Lodge Grass Valley boys and girl’s volleyball team had won the state championship, and they asked whether the ear protectors could be monogrammed with the school’s rallying cry “LG Baby!” Capoor added the wording and sent the equipment off. The response he received from the tribe’s chief nearly brought him to tears.
“The letter I got was so beautiful,” he said, “it made all the work worthwhile.”