Volunteering to Fight COVID-19

If you are like me, you wondered what you could do to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. And there is no greater feeling than being part of something larger than yourself that is doing actual “good” in the community.

On the ground, there are plenty of roles to play: scheduling, check-in, administering the vaccine, traffic control, monitoring, etc. At a higher level, one could tackle the issue by volunteering to serve on a task force or committee. As a medic with the Nebraska National Guard and as Deputy Director with Tri-Faith, I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer at both levels.

Since July 2020, Tri-Faith has convened an Interfaith COVID Task Force. This group of clergy, lay people, and community volunteers came together to put their expertise, connections, and perspectives to work against COVID.

We settled on a strategy of educating the community on resources available and advocating for increased support for disproportionately impacted communities. We developed and distributed a COVID Resource Pamphlet – a collection of resources that anyone could access to help respond to or recover from the pandemic (think: food pantries, utilities assistance programs, and vaccination websites). Our advocacy actions included enlisting over 200 faith and lay leaders to sign a letter asking Governor Ricketts to extend a mask mandate. Whether it’s spreading awareness or influencing policy, fighting takes a holistic approach!

In January 2021, I joined a team of Army and Air Force medics supporting the Douglas County Health Department in administering vaccines to medical professionals. There was a sense of real, tangible accomplishment as our team helped vaccinate thousands in just one week.

Although we had the task of giving the shots, it really was the team of volunteers and staff around us that generated such a huge impact. Front-desk personnel helped check people in and ensured paperwork was in order while a traffic control supervisor kept the lines moving. The nurse-in-charge kept a close eye on our supply to make sure we did not waste any vaccines (especially valuable in those early days) while ensuring we had enough for whoever walked in the door. Professionals and volunteers coming together to accomplish a mission really is a sight to see!

I can’t end without acknowledging the hard work of an army of medical and non-medical personnel who have dedicated their time to help us fight this pandemic. It has not been easy nor perfect – but it has made a difference in the lives of so many.

Whether it’s lending your time to help educate the community or usher people through a vaccination line – there are so many ways one can help. We see a light at the end of the tunnel – but it will take more of our time and energy to make sure we all make it through. Please consider lending a helping hand – safely, of course!

If you are interested in serving on the Interfaith COVID Task Force, contact Erik at eservellon@trifaith.org.

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