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The Essential Service moonshine for humanity

by Barbara (Basia) Talaga

Two Suncore Energy coworkers and friends, Marty Lastiwka and Faye Warrington, teamed up last fall to launch Skunkworks Distillery in Calgary Southeast industrial area. Although the locale has since seen at least one wedding and has managed to build up a small follow-up, the plans of this business owners were revised by the outbreak of the global epidemy few weeks ago.

Since the introduction of the special measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic many businesses have shut down, but the occupations deemed essential to keep things running are still in operation, frequently without an access to the basic protective equipment as the global shortage of the hand sanitizer puts those people at risk. The private initiatives, like Skunkworks Distillery, have stepped in to fill the supply void.

From mid-March, they have been volunteering their time and resources to produce a, much needed, hand sanitizer. Since their primary product, the high-quality moonshine, is only sold in its prime variety, the remaining high-alcohol-content by-product can be turned into a hand-sanitizer.

Ever since the first batch has been brewed following the World Health Organization’s recipe, this Calgary distillery has been internally distributing their made in-house sanitizer entirely free of charge.

Their priority are medical professionals and vulnerable communities’ operators, like homeless shelters staff and social workers, but, as much as they can, they try not to turn away ordinary people and the emergency services providers. Their clientele ranges from Calgary Police Service and maintenance professionals to long haul truckers.

The owners, Marty Lastiwka and Faye Warrington, open up for distribution at Skunkworks Distillery in Calgary’s Alyth/Bonnybrook/Manchester area.
Faye Warrington does the necessary check ups of the production line.
Marty Lastiwka checks the containers with the latest batch of the hand sanitizer.
A spray bottle filled with a hand sanitizer stands on the counter of the Skunkworks Distillery.
Orders of hand sanitizer wait for a pick up behind the counter.
Faye Warrington shares the sanitizer supply with Drew Brown from Dexter's Your Local Pet Shop. The small business stays open for the sake of all the household pets and their owners.
The only way to make an order at the distillery is via an email and every day the company’s mailbox gets swamped with messages which must be answered.
Meghan Luther, from EFW Radiology, awaits her turn to approach the counter. The company's priority are medical professionals and vulnerable communities operators.
Faye Warrington explains the rules of use of their sanitizer to Meghan Luther from Calgary's EFW Radiology.
The co-owner of Skunkworks Distillery, Faye Warrington pours the made in-house sanitizer into a jar provided by a customer.
Faye Warrington, sanitizes her hands after serving a customer.
The co-owner, Marty Lastiwka, presents hibiscus and ginger syrups to a customer. Some hand sanitizer takers show their appreciation by getting interested in company’s regular products.
Christine Richard, who passes the store every day, makes a first-time visit and gets informed about the products offered by the company.
Sgt Paul Fisher from Calgary Police Service leaves Skunkworks Distillery with his supply of hand sanitizer.
Faye Warrington takes a short break to catch a breath. The company has been in high gear since they started their special production and it’s taken its toll on the owners.
Faye Warrington gets anxious over the inability of helping all those in need. The capacity of the distillery forces them to say no to many private individuals.
Faye Warrington sanitizes the entryway and the doors at Skunkworks Distillery.
The customers line up outside the Skunkworks Distillery. The interest has been high from day one of the production.