In February, the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment and the City of Denver selected Project Angel Heart to run a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at our building in Denver’s Globeville neighborhood. Since then, the clinic has vaccinated nearly 2,000 community members, including many people from Globeville and the surrounding neighborhoods.
Every Monday, hundreds of people visit our building on Washington Street for a first or second dose of the vaccine. For many, it’s their first time out of the house in nearly a year. Our volunteers sweep away a lot of fear and uncertainty with a warm welcome and well-organized system.
Brent Eighme, Leticia Martinez, Libby Stone, and Solomon Malekou are a few of the volunteers who have been helping on Mondays.
“COVID-19 was a source of a lot of pain and frustration for everybody…GLOBALLY!” said Solomon, who has volunteered at the clinic registration desk since it opened. This is an opportunity to do my part to put an end to it!”
Libby Stone, who helps at the registration desk and welcomes guests in the parking lot, said, “I wanted to be a part of the national effort to get as many people vaccinated as possible.”
Running a vaccination clinic has been a massive undertaking and could not have been done without the help of our community volunteers. In rain, snow, heavy wind, and sun, our volunteers have been out in the elements ensuring the clinic runs fluidly. Volunteers have primarily helped manage the parking lot, run the registration desk, and monitor the post-shot waiting areas. They’ve also helped out in unexpected ways over these past few months.
Leticia, fluent in Spanish, and Solomon, fluent in Spanish and French, have been providing a much-needed service by translating for non-English speakers.
Solomon remembers one couple well. “Their interpreter was late, and the line was filling up; they seemed terrified and overwhelmed by the whole situation,” said Solomon. “So I stepped in and asked if they spoke French and, fortunately, we had a common language we were able to communicate with. Showing them compassion and helping them out with their paperwork and helping translate for them with the staff and nurses…they were extremely appreciative.”
Getting the vaccine has brought relief to many people and a ticket to returning to normalcy soon. For some, however, there was fear that the vaccine would make them sick or even agitate a pre-existing condition.
Brent recalled someone who was immunocompromised and afraid of entering the building with other people. “I told the person that we could bring the vaccination to them at the car and they broke into tears of gratitude and relief,” said Brent. “Wow. That will stick with me for the rest of my life.”
Project Angel Heart and 9Health Fair put tremendous effort into outreach to let those living in the surrounding area know that the vaccine was available at Project Angel Heart. However, for many who work nearby, taking off a day of work wasn’t an option.
Project Angel Heart connected with many surrounding businesses to ensure that employees knew there was a clinic next door. It was a fantastic opportunity for them, as they could get vaccinated in fifteen minutes without having to take hours off work to stand in line at larger clinics.
“Most of those guests are the frontline employees that provide service to our city and nation to keep it functioning,” said Leticia.
Many lessons have become evident during this pandemic. One of the most important lessons has been this: to support those around you in any way you can at this moment, whether you know them or not.
The last clinic will happen on May 24, 2021. The vaccination clinic has been a phenomenal community effort, and we very much appreciate the effort of our volunteers. So did the people who visited the clinic to get vaccinated.
“What has stood out to me,” said Libby, “is how many people have thanked us after getting their vaccine. People were so appreciative that PAH was hosting the clinic. I can’t tell you how many times someone said to me, ‘Thank you for what you are doing!’”