Logistical Volunteers Needed for Vaccination Center

By Sharon Mager

GREENBELT, Md. — Maryland/Delaware Baptists have an excellent opportunity to serve alongside other volunteers and paid staff at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Prince George’s County. Maryland Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) seeks volunteers 18 and older to assist with non-medical support for the Federal Pilot Community Vaccination Center (CVC) at the Greenbelt Metro Station. VOAD is recruiting and managing these valuable assistants at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Maryland/Delaware Baptist Disaster Relief is one of the lead organizations partnering in this effort.

A FEMA worker gives instructions to volunteers for their first shift at a mass COVID-19 vaccination site in Greenbelt, Maryland (photo by Ellen Udovich).

The site did a soft opening this week. As more vaccine doses become available, management expects the center’s capacity to be 3,000 shots per day.

Volunteers are essential for providing patients with hospitality, safety, and expedited service. The effort requires 30 volunteers each day for eight weeks and each day is divided into two shifts with 15 volunteers each. Hours will vary, including early morning or evening opportunities. Volunteer roles include greeter, manning the wellness checkpoint, observation, exit guide, and assisting persons with disabilities.

Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware Community Engagement Consultant Ellen Udovich emphasized that volunteers do not need vaccinations or Disaster Relief training. However, FEMA requires that volunteers practice standard COVID-19 safety protocols while serving.

Providing a Calming Influence
Becky Jantarasami, a member of Dunkirk Baptist Church in Maryland, was on hand for the first day of the vaccination site opening.

Jantarasami shared, “We greeted people as they came to the site, reminded them that they need their appointment code and identification, and helped those who needed assistance.” Additionally, she and others also provided wheelchairs and helped transport people as needed. Jantarasami explained that the station is large and is a challenging walk for some people.

Becky Jantarasami, who serves as treasurer for Dunkirk Baptist Church, is a retired registered nurse. She sought a way to help with the pandemic and responded immediately to the call for help at the COVID-19 vaccination site (photo by Ellen Udovich).

Some people were a little nervous, especially as they sat in the waiting room after the vaccine. “I’m a retired registered nurse, so I watched them and asked how they felt. Everyone was fine,” Jantarasami said.

“There was one lady who was pretty anxious. She had a good sense of humor, and we chatted a lot and I tried to reassure her that she was going to be okay. I wanted to be a calming presence,” she added.

Jantarasami said the experience was rewarding and she will continue as she is able. “I wanted to do something to help with the pandemic,” she shared. The opportunity was a perfect fit.

“Everyone was very grateful,” Jantaramsi remembered. “People were saying ‘thank you,’ and ‘God bless you.’”

All Hands on Deck
Urging others to provide assistance, Udovich said, “This is an ‘all hands on deck,’ extremely short-notice event. Several other faith groups and non-profit organizations are working hard so we can reach our collective target of daily volunteers.

“If you live within an hour of Greenbelt, please consider volunteering one or more days. Reach out to friends who may be able to volunteer or encourage your church group to register for an entire shift.”

Volunteers will receive detailed information upon registration.

Sign up to volunteer at the Greenbelt Metro Station Vaccination Center at MDDART.org and look under “Vaccine Center Opportunities.”

NOTE: When you access the registration, click on “Next” at the bottom of the page until you see your preferred volunteer date.