Sonia and Jennifer both recognize gratitude as their work’s greatest reward. “Everyone is so excited,” Jennifer happily shares. Sonia highlights the tangible family impact of seeing households come together in healthy solidarity and the satisfaction of being a part of this effort.

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Volunteer Profiles - Meet Jennifer and Sonia

Every Wednesday, the County of Santa Cruz Health and Human Services partners with the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County to vaccinate 1,000+ people at the Mass Vaccination Clinic at the County Fairgrounds. This unprecedented effort requires medical professionals, public health experts and community volunteers working together.

Approximately 75 volunteers a week have taken a critical role in assisting vaccinators with their essential work. Deployed throughout the drive-through clinic, they assist in confirming appointments, delivering supplies, directing traffic, completing paperwork with community members, and assisting vaccinators in preparation of delivering the vaccine.

Two of these vaccinators, Jennifer Chao, 24, and Sonia Aujla, 28, are relishing their roles serving on the frontlines of history. As Safeway Vaccinators active since this effort began in January, they’ve been essential in the evolving fight against COVID-19.

Early on, that fight was hardest. Sonia sees the initial vaccine rollout as the most challenging part of the pandemic response. Echoing her sentiments, Jennifer conveyed the stressful nature of navigating the hectic early stages. “It was a lot of doses at once,” she recalls. She also observes that it was difficult to ensure that folks came back for their second dose.

Early on, the need for the clinic to be outdoors posed it’s own challenges. Asked her greatest challenge in the vaccine rollout, Jennifer emphatically replied, “Weather!” The rain in January and February made it especially difficult for the elderly who struggled with accessing the clinic when it was moved indoors on stormy days. This compounded the difficulty for vaccinators, who had to simultaneously face standing on their feet for hours.

Making history does have its upsides, of course. Sonia and Jennifer both recognize gratitude as their work’s greatest reward. “Everyone is so excited,” Jennifer happily shares. Sonia highlights the tangible family impact of seeing households come together in healthy solidarity and the satisfaction of being a part of this effort.

Sonia and Jennifer were both especially eager to share gratitude for the service provided by community volunteers. Sonia notes, “It would be double the work without the hours of assistance [from volunteers].” With trust in the vaccine increasing, evidence of its success against variance, and with ongoing volunteer support, she confidently shares that she’s excited to continue.

GIVE YOUR TIME: You can join vaccinators like Sonia and Jennifer in their historic efforts to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Both licensed medical professionals and non-medical volunteers are needed to ensure we continue our progress towards mass immunity and a full reopening. Now more than ever, you can be the one to make the difference in a person’s life! Learn more and sign up to volunteer on our website. 

FIND YOUR CAUSE: Still trying to discover your passion? Explore volunteer opportunities currently available.

This profile was written by Luke Ballmer, an AmeriCorps VIP Member serving with the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County for the 2020-2021 service year. Learn more about AmeriCorps VIP and Luke on our website. 

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