From California to Delaware, from Illinois to Florida, UnidosUS Affiliates have proven their capacity to adapt to the needs of the communities they serve. In 2020, the pandemic made them change directions, and they quickly moved their services and programs online, and worked in collaboration with other agencies and local governments to provide COVID-19 resources, information, and tests to Latinos. This year, these organizations have done everything in their power to debunk misinformation and vaccines distrust, and to bring COVID-19 vaccines where they are needed the most. During this National Month of Action to get more people vaccinated by July 4, here are just a few examples of UnidosUS Affiliates’ efforts.
By Beatriz Paniego-Béjar, Content Specialist, UnidosUS
Offering the COVID-19 vaccine in a culturally and linguistically competent environment has meant opening the doors to the vaccine to community members who wouldn’t have otherwise received them.
UnidosUS Florida Affiliates ConnectFamilias in Miami, Latino Leadership in Orlando, and UnidosNow in Manatee/Sarasota, for example, have created partnerships locally to give access to the vaccines to Hispanics in their language and in spaces where they feel understood.
In Pennsylvania, Asociación de Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) and Spanish American Civic Association (SACA) have been able to provide vaccination clinics with local organizations as well, while UMOS in Milwakee, Wisconsin, was able to vaccinate more than 1,000 city residents at their center by mid-April.
UnidosUS Affiliates El Pueblo, Inc. hosted online panels with people who were vaccinate to talk about their experience, giving the audience the chance to hear firsthand from those who have gotten the vaccine.
These personal connections turn these Affiliates into trusted sources when it comes to issues like getting vaccinated, and these community-based organizations have understood the power of sharing their personal stories with the clients they serve, with whom they’ve developed a relationship of trust.
UNIDOS US’S STAFF VACCINATION EXPERIENCES
In an effort to continue developing that trust in COVID-19 vaccines, UnidosUS staff is also sharing their experiences getting their vaccine doses. Laura Alfonso, Membership Specialist and Regional Liaison at the Affiliate Engagement team, is based in Phoenix, Arizona. She decided to get her vaccine at the organization’s Affiliate Valle del Sol.
“Valle del Sol is a trusted community partner and I knew I would be in good hands with them, while also supporting their efforts,” Laura shares. Booking her appointment was simple and fast: “I called their appointment line [(602) 258-6797] and got set up with an appointment for the next day in less than five minutes. I could tell that their aim was to register as many folks as possible and to make that process as smooth as possible.”
Affiliate Engagement Manager and Regional Liaison Ana Salazar also wanted to get vaccinated at a UnidosUS Affiliate, and she did it at Breese Foundation in Los Angeles, California. Ana and Laura have seen firsthand the astounding work these organizations have done during the pandemic.
Ana explains: “One of the things that has been amazing to see is the adaptability of organizations in the UnidosUS Affiliate Network. There have been remarkable collaborations that have allowed them to engage in bringing not just COVID-19 education and resources to their communities, but now vaccines as well.”
Bresse’s registration process was different, also very easy, but done through an online form where you pre-register and as soon as appointments become available they notify you so you can schedule when to get a vaccine.
Both UnidosUS Affiliates had very organized vaccination events, following CDC guidelines and getting people through efficiently and quickly, minimizing the amount of time spent indoors, in the case of Valle del Sol—Breese had their vaccination event outside—as well as ensuring a high number of people vaccinated.
“DOING MY PART TO STOP THE SPREAD”
Social media has also served as a medium for people to share why they are getting vaccinated, and engage others to do the same:
Laura and Ana from the UnidosUS Affiliate Engagement team also explained why it was important for them to get the shots:
“I have family members who are at higher risk of severe illness due to COVID-19, and my main motivator was to protect them. I want to do my part to ensure that we stop the spread, starting at home.” – Laura Alfonso
“I was eager to get vaccinated for many reasons. One of the main reasons is my family and loved ones, but also so that we can all move forward to healing from this last year. A lot has been lost, a lot of lives, and if I can do anything to help, I would do it in a second. For me, it’s about thinking of this small thing I can do that, overall, will benefit us all as a society.” – Ana Salazar
Both Laura and Ana also felt that it was important to get a vaccine at one of their local UnidosUS Affiliates who was offering it to the public.
As Laura explained: “I want to encourage our community to get vaccinated through our Affiliates [find a list of UnidosUS Affiliates here], and help spread the word about their efforts. When I was at Valle del Sol, there were family groups coming together to be vaccinated: it reminded me how much we value family and community. Let that be your motivation as well!”
Ana was also in awe of Breese Foundation: “On a personal note, it was really great being at the Affiliate site. I was able to meet the staff and get to know their programs. Nonprofits have been key in responding to this pandemic; they continue to be constantly there to help the communities face anything and everything.”
If you have already received your COVID-19 vaccine(s), tell us your story! Use the hashtag #EsperanzaHope4All in any social media channel and tell us why you’ve decided to get vaccinated: what’s your why?