Local Hispanic organization OLA (Organización Latino Americana) will be expanding its COVID vaccine education and site operation work, thanks to a grant from the Hispanic Federation as part of the Federation’s participation in the New York State COVID-19 Vaccine Outreach and Education Initiative.
The grant of $99,444 will allow OLA to establish additional vaccination sites in partnership with local hospitals, thereby expanding the work it has been doing since vaccines became available earlier this year. This funding will also allow OLA to hire a vaccine “ambassador” as well as two youth ambassadors to reach Latino community members in more targeted ways.
OLA is one of 36 organizations across the state, and one of only three on Long Island, to receive this funding from the Federation.
“We’re grateful to the Hispanic Federation and honored to have been chosen to be a part of this statewide Department of Health initiative,” OLA Executive Director Minerva Perez said in an announcement about the grant. “While we’ve been doing this work for many months now, this new funding will allow us to intensify and fine tune our outreach so that we reach teens that are eligible for the vaccine as well as people of all ages who would like more information to counter the misinformation that is still circulating out there about vaccine safety.”
Perez noted that OLA will also be working with families in more targeted ways. They plan to organize intimate and confidential gatherings allowing people to air any concerns they may have about getting vaccinated and receive the latest information on vaccine safety. “We also hope to implement an East End home vaccination program in partnership with health care providers, working with them to identify homebound people who have not yet been vaccinated but who wish to be,” Perez continued. “Having a vaccine ‘ambassador’ on the ground will allow us to reach so many community members we haven’t yet connected with.”
OLA began its vaccination work in February, operating numerous vaccination sites on the North and South Forks in partnership with Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital, and Northwell Health, as well as with nonprofit partners. It has also collaborated with houses of worship, schools, and local business to ensure that as many East End residents as possible, including and especially Latinx and African American community members.
Thus far, according to OLA, this work has directly resulted in more than 3,770 local people receiving vaccines.