WARREN TWP. – Week after week, month after month, local teenager Matthew Nunes gave of his free time to help keep others safe.
Working from his basement, Matthew Nunes has 3-D printed nearly 3,000 face shields for hospital workers, first responders and other front-line personnel.
The tally stood at 2,956, to be exact, as of Wednesday, June 2, as while demand has decreased, Nunes is still printing and donating face shields at a slower rate.
For these tireless efforts that began in the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Nunes has been named the Citizen of the Year by the Warren Township Lions Club.
Lions Club members presented him with the award on Wednesday outside of TD Bank on Mountain Boulevard.
The award is presented every few years to an outstanding citizen who personifies service to the community, said Club President Kevin Helewa.
“This year, Matthew stood out as one of the earliest young members of our community to identify the need for PPE [personal protective equipment] and come up with a creative solution to offer help to first responders and hospital workers,” Helewa said. “He did so in a way that greatly impressed our club membership, and we’re very happy to have someone like him to give this award to this year.”
Nunes, 16, a junior at Watchung Hills Regional High School, said he saw an opportunity to help when PPE supplies were low.
“I just did it because I like helping out my community, I enjoy helping people,” he said. “I wanted to do something to help everybody.”
Thanking the Lions Club for the recognition, he expressed gratitude to his fellow volunteers and residents.
“It’s an amazing award and I really appreciate it. I appreciate everybody who helped me; I couldn’t have done it without them. And also all the people who supported me, especially in the Warren community.”
Matthew’s father, Jose, was on hand for the award presentation.
He said his son is driven and enjoys hands-on activities, so the project kept him busy amid increased downtime earlier in the pandemic.
“He helped a lot of people and a lot of people are proud of him,” said Mr. Nunes. “I’m extremely proud.”