Stamper finds way to pay it forward
Eryck Stamper, a struggling seed broker in the Maryland hemp industry, is worried his business may be going under.
If that’s the case, however, he said he hopes to go out giving back to his community.
Stamper, founder of the Maryland Hemp Exchange, donated hemp fabric to make about 200 masks for a Glen Bernie rehabilitation center, he said last week. The fabric is among the company’s last assets after he was denied loans from several federal programs to assist companies struggling with the aftermath of the coronavirus.
“If I’m going out, I might as well go out good,” he said. “Make a difference on the way out.”
The retired Navy veteran is working with Sew Fabulous Sewing School in Pikesville to make the masks, which Marley Neck Healthcare Center will use to better protect about 65 patients and 76 staff members, Stamper said. The sewing school, which is also about to shutter, he said, is using student volunteers to sew the masks.
“In troubled times, we have to make sure we’re taking care of our community,” he said.
Stamper launched his company in 2018 using disability money he received from the military following a two-decade career that took him from the Iraq War to relief operations in Africa and Southeast Asia. He retired in 2013 as a senior chief petty officer.
The Maryland Hemp Exchange has been working for the last two years to organize the state’s growers into a cooperative that would grow the same industrial hemp seed. Most growers are raising hemp for the expanding CBD market. Stamper, the company’s sole employee, said he plans to continue that work despite the state of his company.
“I’m maintaining sweat equity,” he said.
As of May 28, the virus, also known as COVID-19, had infected at least 1.7 million Americans and killed more than 100,000. The masks will be a great help to the rehab center, said Mike Lavin, the center’s executive director, in an e-mail.
“Our patients would love them,” he said. “Our employees must wear at least a surgical mask, but they could definitely use cloth ones when at home or in the community, which will go a long way towards keeping them healthy when at work.”
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