Our Denver kitchen and office space has always been a hub for community activity, a place where people come together to provide nutritious meals for Coloradans with life-threatening health conditions. This spring, our building in Denver’s Globeville neighborhood also became a COVID-19 community vaccination site.
Since February 15, nearly 2,000 people have visited Project Angel Heart to receive either a first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
In January, the Colorado Department of Health and Human Services and the City of Denver approached Project Angel Heart about hosting a community vaccination clinic. The idea was to provide a centrally located vaccine site for under-served communities in the area and the ill, often home-bound clients of Project Angel Heart.
“We knew this would be a tremendous amount of work,” said Owen Ryan, president & CEO of Project Angel Heart. “but we wanted to be part of the solution. At the end of the day, this is what we’re here for – to make our community healthier and stronger.”
Project Angel Heart staff members took on the task of outfitting the clinic space in our building. We hired contractors to reach out to qualifying neighbors and clients and schedule appointments. We recruited volunteers to work in the parking lot, greet and assist people with appointments, and monitor the post-vaccine observation area.
On February 15, more than 100 people who qualified based on the state guidelines were vaccinated. Two weeks later, as outreach efforts and capacity expanded, that number grew to 200. Once people started getting second doses, the morning clinics became full-day clinics, with more than 400 people being vaccinated each Monday.
“I was incredibly lucky to witness the endless amount of work that went into the vaccine clinics. Being that I was the observation area host, I also got to speak with each and every person that came through. One person said, ‘Bless all of you for doing this and reaching out to people like me. I thought someone would forget about me.’”
– Jeanne Kekesi, clinic volunteer
In early April, Project Angel Heart began integrating the clinic more fully into the network of clinics being managed by the City of Denver, reducing the time and resources required from Project Angel Heart staff. “The clinics are fast-paced and things are constantly changing, so there’s a lot of troubleshooting throughout the day,” said Kyle Copp, operations and sustainability manager. “Seeing the relief in people’s eyes has made it worth it. People are just so happy to be vaccinated.”