If you asked his mother, you could always tell John Kornegay was going to be an engineer because he was very good at taking things apart.
“The problem is, I am just OK at putting things back together,” says John with a chuckle. “But I love to make things. I’m not always good at it, but I try.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit in early 2020, there was a critical need for personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare workers. John—a Barkhamsted resident and retired engineer who had become fascinated with 3D printing during retirement—finally had the excuse to purchase the 3D printer he had his eyes on.
“At the time, there was a real need for face shields, frames for the shields, and other PPE—and I really wanted to help out. By the time the printer came in though, the need for PPE had passed. But I was still fascinated with the technology.”
Fast forward one year later and John found a new way to help the community—specifically children— through his newfound hobby.
“I eventually found and joined a Facebook group of hobbyists from across the county who 3D-printed toys for Toys for Tots. I collected them for the New England region and delivered about 7,000 toys to Hartford and Litchfield Counties here in Connecticut. Then a friend suggested I deliver some toys to the children at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital’s Center for Youth and Families.”
Located in Torrington, the CHH Center for Youth and Families is a Child Advocacy Center and professional mental health service that assists children, adolescents, and their families with emotional, behavioral, developmental, and family difficulties. Joan Neveski, LCSW, Clinical Manager at the Center, says that John’s toy deliveries have become one of their most highly anticipated days of their week.
“John has been regularly dropping off toys for us—and we challenge him each time to make something new that we can use for therapy sessions,” says Neveski. “He is always up for the challenge and his amazing creations add a great deal to our in-session work with children—particularly play therapy, which can help children who may not have the words to express what they are experiencing. We are forever grateful that he has become part of our team.”
“If I can do anything to help the kids the Center serves, that makes me feel good,” shares John. “These kids are going through a tough time, if there is something I can do to make their day or life better, then that makes me happy. My wife Cheryl and I have been making donations to healthcare organizations for years—and now, we have a new way to give.”
“John’s toys have been a big hit for the children we serve at the CHH Center for Youth and Families,” shared Lynn Rossini, VP of Philanthropy at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital. “From trucks to dogs, dragons, dinosaurs, and giraffes—the creativity and ingenuity of these amazing 3D-printed toys have brought many smiles to the faces of our patients, caregivers, and volunteers.
“We’re sincerely grateful to John for finding this unique way to support Charlotte Hungerford and our mission and we want to recognize John and Cheryl for their generous philanthropic support of the program and for joining CHH’s 1916 Society,” Rossini continued.
“I think it’s always important to give something back to your community,” says John. “And Charlotte Hungerford is key to our community—so it’s a great place to start if you want to give back.”