What happens when people know they matter and use their unique skills and expertise to make a difference in peoples’ lives? At MATTER recently, we learned the answer when a student from the University of Minnesota volunteered to help us improve our inventory system. Because of his efforts, MATTER will be able to serve our partners more efficiently, which will enable them to help more people receive the quality of healthcare they deserve.

MATTER’s warehouse is a beehive of activity. Every day, we receive trucks full of medical equipment and supplies generously donated by our local and Midwest hospital partners. In equipment, we receive everything a hospital needs from birthing beds, incubators, and surgical lamps to office desks, chairs and file cabinets. On the supply side, we receive everything from gloves, catheters, and syringes to surgical instruments, hospital gowns, and medical tape.

In any given month, MATTER receives about 70 pallets of medical supplies which contain approximately 250,000 supply items. Many of these items need to be processed through our computer inventory. Until recently, that involved someone manually typing in about five pieces of information per item. Not only was the process tedious and time-consuming, but it limited the amount of supplies we could receive each month.

All that has now changed. The once clunky and time-consuming process is now quick and efficient, thanks to one very smart and tech-savvy student.

MATTER’s Director of Engineering and Technology, Paul Kauffman, scanning supplies in the MATTER warehouse.

Joe Numainville is a senior at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Recently, he met with our Director of Engineering and Technology, Paul Kauffman, to learn about our system and discuss ways in which to improve and streamline it.

The result was a new software program Joe built exclusively for MATTER. Instead of manually typing the information into a computer, Joe’s software allows us to scan the items using barcodes, with the information now going directly into a live inventory database. The difference between the old system and the new is night and day. Before Joe’s software, we could process about 100-200 items a week. Now we can process that many items in a day!

For Joe, designing the software was a challenge he was eager to take on and right up his alley. Majoring in computer science and statistics, he’s also in the integrated master’s program for computer science. Upon graduation, he’d like to work as a data scientist or in the area of data analysis.

Joe Numainville

Joe was familiar with MATTER and believed in our mission, and had volunteered at several events over the years. While he enjoyed helping MATTER, he wanted to contribute in a way that more fit his interests and utilized his skills.

“I’ve volunteered at MATTER galas, events with Gorgui Dieng’s Foundation, and even a MATTERbox packing event. I like volunteering, but I wanted to work on something where I could apply my expertise. I’d been looking for a smaller project to work on to get some more experience. This project gave me a chance to work on a real problem with real data, so I was eager to help.”

And help he did! His software program is a game-changer for MATTER. As Paul explained,

“Before Joe’s software, MATTER had the capability of processing about 40 pallets a month with two dedicated people. Now, we can process more than 100 pallets a month, and in the near future, we’ll be able to do 150-200 a month. This will allow us to take in and put to use five times the amount of medical supplies per year. Because of Joe’s software, we’ll be able to scale much larger, and ultimately help more partners, without having to add more people or costs to our organization.”

MATTER is grateful for volunteers like Joe who recognize their skills and expertise matter and can be used to impact people’s lives for good. What skills, talents, and expertise can you offer to make a difference in peoples’ lives? How could you matter? Contact MATTER today and let us help you find ways to use your unique life experiences to do good in the lives of others to let them know they matter too.