When COVID-19 vaccines were approved for public distribution, the coordination of making the vaccine available throughout the region quickly became a community effort.
When An Achievable Dream received a request to support Riverside Health System’s vaccine distribution by utilizing our elementary school and middle and high school in the southeast community as vaccine clinic locations, the answer was an easy “yes.” Dr. Vreeland, AAD President and CEO, shared, “The vaccination clinics at AAD were just a no-brainer to me. This is a community effort, we all have to come together and stop the spread, and we felt very passionate about doing our part.”
An Achievable Dream staff volunteered to provide appointment registration facilitation and assistance, assistance onsite at the clinics, and raising awareness about the availability of the clinics through community engagement. Qualifying patients contacted An Achievable Dream’s office to book an appointment in advance, then received their dose at either An Achievable Dream Middle and High School or An Achievable Dream Academy on Saturdays throughout March, April and May, 2021.
Many partners were engaged in this concerted effort including Newport News Public Schools, the faith community including the Coalition of Concerned Clergy 757, NAACP, and service groups. In a March, 2021 CIVIC Leadership Institute article highlighting the community impact of Dr. Vreeland and Dr. Kevin Swann, (both 2016 graduates of CIVIC), Dr. Swann, who is Senior Pastor of Ivy Baptist Church, shared: “I am acutely aware that COVID is disproportionately impacting African-Americans at a much higher rate. In marginalized and underserved communities, access to health care is much more difficult to obtain.”
These partnerships and coordinated efforts with our schools brought the vaccine to over 2,500 people in the southeast community of Newport News, as well as Hampton.
William B. “Bill” Downey, CEO of Riverside Health System, shares this about the collaboration with An Achievable Dream and the local community: “Partnering with An Achievable Dream to make COVID-19 vaccines available to individuals in Newport News and Hampton was an integral part of the vaccine rollout in our communities. Working with partners like An Achievable Dream, Newport News Public Schools, NAACP, service groups, Coalition of Concerned Clergy 757, and many more in our Vaccinate the Peninsula efforts, made it not only possible to provide vaccines efficiently, but exceeded our expectations for vaccine administration. From hosting clinics in their schools, to providing food for volunteers and logistics support, An Achievable Dream’s partnership through the COVID-19 crisis has been invaluable to Riverside Health System.”