As the East End was gearing up for Memorial Day weekend, Organización Latino-Americana of Eastern Long Island received good news from the Centers for Disease Control’s philanthropic CDC Foundation—preliminary approval for a grant of around $100,000 as part of the Foundation’s project, “Supporting Community-based Organizations (CBOs) to Increase Vaccination Coverage.” The grant will allow OLA to continue ensuring that Latinx and other people of color have access to and understand the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Since February, the group has been doing this work unfunded. OLA has either operated its own pop up vaccination sites in East Hampton and Greenport, in partnership with Stony Brook Southampton Hospital and Northwell Health respectively, as well as with nonprofit partners; or it has collaborated with houses of worship, schools, and local business to ensure that as many East End residents as possible, including and especially Latinx community members, receive the COVID-19 vaccine through intensive one-on-one outreach and appointment scheduling. This work has resulted directly in more than 2,300 local people receiving vaccines.
Most recently, OLA worked to bring the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine to 107 East End Latinx community members, including landscapers and youth, at one of the area’s largest landscaping companies, Marders (May 19), and at Springs Food Pantry (May 26), located in the Springs Presbyterian Church. OLA provided several bilingual staff members and volunteers to help register people on site, answer any questions related to vaccine hesitancy, interpret when necessary, guide people through the process and share materials related to youth mental health and OLA’s Project Hope COVID crisis counseling program.
“It has been a natural next step for OLA to connect its developing relationships with health care institutions directly to our local workforce and other family support networks such as the Springs Food Pantry. Both Marders and the pantry were encouraging and supportive of these actions,” said Minerva Perez, OLA’s Executive Director. “We understand our role as creating access to vaccines as well as sharing as widely as possible information related to vaccines.”