Ever since I scheduled COVID vaccine appointments for my family in January, I have been worrying about people who need the vaccine but are not getting it, because they do not have access to a computer or because the online appointment systems are so inefficient or because they live too far away from the New York State sites. The fact that so many of them may be those who are most in need of the vaccine – seniors, minorities, essential workers – haunted me. So, I decided to join the ranks of the vaccine appointment volunteers.
I was not alone. Hundreds of people had the same idea. It has been a joy to witness, strangers stepping up to help strangers. People are pitching in on their own or through local governments, non-profit organizations or religious institutions. For me, that meant working on a joint initiative of the Southampton Town Democratic Committee https://shdems.org/ and OLA of Eastern Long Island https://www.olaofeasternlongisland.org/.
Some of the most amazing assistance is also being offered through Facebook groups, organized for just this purpose. These groups connect volunteers to people who know someone in need. They have also become a central clearing house of information, offering tips and advice as well as posting information when a site opens appointments. There is so much that is bad about social media, so it is particularly heartwarming when it is being used for something good. I was able to … [more]