Lunch and learn to raise awareness

Michael Bauer, Odessa American, Texas
·4 min read

Apr. 7—An informational lunch and learn will be put on by a nonprofit organization in hopes of raising awareness to local community members of the urgent need to provide all day rifle rated protection to multiple agencies in the area.

The organization, which is called Shield616, will be conducting the event at noon Thursday at Crossroads Church Odessa Campus, located at 6901 E. Highway 191.

Shield616, was started five years ago and is based out of Colorado Springs, Colo.

It was created to provide all day rifle protection for peace officers and first responders as they work to protect communities.

"What we do is rally local communities throughout the nation to back their officers, police and fire fighters and recently, we started doing EMTs, to get riffle ready armor to the first responders so that we can ensure that they go home safe at night," Shield616 project manager Ashley Felice said.

Two years ago, Shield616 started communications with local donors to provide Angel Armor's all-day rifle rated protection to the Midland Police Department.

Through the efforts of Ally Outdoors, community members and foundations, $287,379.50 was raised to outfit 137 Midland Police Department Officers.

"Back in late 2018, we started to rally the Midland community and through that, we were able to get the entire Midland Police Department with riffle armor and we knew that we wanted to continue those efforts in the area," Felice said.

In early 2020, Midland Police Department received their armor and Shield616 has continued the efforts to get Odessa Police Department, the Midland Sherriff's Office, Ector County Sheriff's Office, Ector County Independent School District Police Department, Ector County Hospital District Police Department, the City of Odessa Fire Marshal's Office and the University of Texas Permian Basin Police Department.

Each set of armor costs about $2,100, according to a press release provided by Shield616.

That set includes an Angel Armor vest carrier, level 111A soft body armor, front and back level 111A rifle plates and a galvion helmet.

The total need for the seven agencies and 465 first responders that will need this armor is $936,975, according to the press release.

Shield616 had been wanting to do a lunch and learn back in the Odessa-Midland area but the pandemic and the winter storm messed up those opportunities.

"So, we had a presentation at the beginning of 2020 and I think we all know how that year ended up," Felice said. "So I think all the efforts came to a screeching halt. So we've been trying to get that back up and going."

They tried again to put together a presentation for this year that was originally supposed to take place in early March, according to Felice.

"At the beginning of this year, we said that we had to get this going again," Felice said. "So we started communicating back with Odessa and decided to do a lunch and learn and get the momentum going again."

However, February's winter storm across the state and the effects from it forced another reschedule.

"So, we had to cancel it, of course because that's what happens," Felice said. "It's turning out to be great and this Thursday, we're going to do a lunch and learn and bring that awareness to the area again and get some donors involved and to help spread the word."

The event is schedule to be hosted by Shield616 president and founder Jake Skifstad with Midland Police Department Chief Seth Herman serving as the special guest speaker.

A meet and greet will take place after the lunch and speakers.

Felice said that Thursday's event is more of a chance to raise awareness than a fundraiser but that anyone who wants to donate can still do so.

"On Thursday, we're not asking for donations, we're just trying to raise awareness," Felice said. "If somebody wants to donate, then that's great but I think our main focus is to bring awareness and to bring a spark of light into people's hearts to start talking to their friends and families and business and to rally the community."

To RSVP, contact Ashley Felice at