Story of the Week

My host site got a phone call in early March from the Department of Health (DOH) asking about whether local social service providers had interest and capacity in organizing people experiencing homelessness to get vaccinated. The DOH wanted to bring Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses to people, rather than have people come to their clinic due to transportation barriers, job barriers, childcare barriers, and so on. My host site and another congregate shelter (Charter House) in the county responded. Initially I was tasked with communicating with the DOH to support their efforts. Quickly I learned that the DOH had doses available but beyond that there was no infrastructure to reach people. Part of my service last summer and fall included delivering meals to those living in hotels and motels through the Economic Services Department because they didn't have a safe place to stay. I was aware that around 100 people (those living in hotels and motels) would fall through the cracks of this vaccination opportunity if we didn't reach out to them. I created a "infrastructure" and communication norms so that my host site and Charter House could reach beyond our residents and encourage people living in hotels and motels to get vaccinated. This project was a skill strengthening opportunity to practice delegating staff members to call people and knock on people's doors, creating a spreadsheet to track people's availability, communicating information in clear yet direct ways, making a schedule for the DOH that explained their driving route as well as creating an appointment spreadsheet and cancellation list.

On March 24, two to three weeks after I made my first call to the DOH, we got people physically vaccinated! 111 people showed up to our clinics. I got to do "hospitality" at our clinic and see people receive their vaccines. It was truly memorable to see how this physical act of being vaccinated marked a huge positive shift in our client's lives.