As Novant Health continues efforts to vaccinate the public against COVID-19, community volunteers are joining the battle. 

“You see a lot of different emotions. I’ve seen some spouses who got their shots together and they look at each other with a smile like ‘Yes. We finally did it.’,” said Miriam Espaillat, who volunteered at a mass-vaccination event at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte.

‘This is pretty special to me’

Nicole Todd
Nicole Todd

Nicole Todd felt compelled to volunteer after her husband, Anthony, died from COVID-19 last fall. “This is pretty special to me,” she said.

Todd was tasked with sanitizing chairs and chatting with people after they received their vaccine. It is recommended that people wait 15 minutes before leaving the vaccination site – just to be certain there is not an allergic reaction. Those who have a history of adverse reactions to injections are advised to wait for 30 minutes.

Atul Contractor
Atul Contractor

Another volunteer, Atul Contractor, waited for patients by the entrance, taking them to the correct location to receive their vaccine and helping them find their way back. “Everybody is really happy,” he said.

‘We’re part of the community’

Dalton Espaillat, owner of Sabor Latin Street Grill, and his wife Miriam corralled a group of 14 people to volunteer.

“We're part of the community and this was an opportunity to give back and be part of something really special,” Miriam Espaillat said. “My parents are over 65 and when I took them to get their vaccine, it was really emotional to see them happy that they finally got it. I knew it was something that felt special.”

Volunteer Billy Price cheered people on as they exited the Charlotte event. “Everyone seems so relieved to be able to get the shot. It’s just a great effort,” he said.

Miriam and Dalton Espaillat
Miriam and Dalton Espaillat

Volunteer experience has been ‘deeply meaningful’

Thousands of people have signed up to volunteer, said Melissa Parker, Novant Health patient advocacy officer and vice president of patient services. She said the volunteers help create a “remarkable vaccination experience” as they are the first individuals that people encounter when they arrive for their appointment.

“Volunteers work as parking lot attendants and front door greeters. They take the patient’s temperature and provide directions to the patient for where to check in,” Parker said. “They help with the check-in process, clean chairs in between patients, assist with way-finding, talk with patients in observation and provide an ‘I got my shot’ button and thank the patient for choosing Novant Health.”

Parker said the volunteer experience has been “deeply meaningful” for people who have shared how gratifying it is to be a part of this hopeful moment in history as we all work together to end this pandemic.

Interested in volunteering?

Novant Health is looking for non-clinical volunteers, ages 16+, to help greet people as they arrive, escort people through the line, assist with traffic flow, help with paperwork and more. Each volunteer will be provided with personal protective equipment, and most shifts are four hours long. Click here to sign up.

TOP PHOTO: Volunteer Lien Truong cheered people on as they exited the Spectrum Center on Feb. 13.