On Feb. 4, just before enrollment for the COVID-19 vaccine was about to open up for seniors age 80 and up in Oregon, a board member of the nonprofit Positive Charge! PDX sent an email to co-founder, Sallie Pearlman Cohen about a post they had seen where someone offered to assist seniors with the registration process on the East Coast.
Sallie had read several news stories about how the online system was not only expected to be overwhelmed with requests for appointments but that seniors would have the added difficulties of either not having computers or having difficulty with the online system itself.
“I looked online to see, literally, how to assist seniors when seeking online vaccine appointments, thinking our PC! group might be able to do this too,” says Sallie. “I found a news article, leading me to a college student – senior matching program that the EDCJCC and the GW Hillel had just started in Washington, D.C.”
Sallie reached out to the exec director of the JCC and the director of the GW Hillel to see if they had any templates they would be willing to share with PC! PDX so that they could get up and running on a similar project of our own.
“The next morning, I woke up to an email from Adena Kirstein, director of the GW Hillel with the question, ‘Do you have a daughter by the name of Emilie, by chance?’ (I love when the world gets very small!)…followed by a wonderful email filled with lots of offers and a master template they were willing to share,” says Sallie.
Sallie took their master template and modified it to match the community’s needs, and created an amazing network of interested and engaged volunteers. Then on Feb. 16, amid power outages and internet challenges from a recent snow and ice storm, she had a training call with these volunteers.
PC! PDX then joined forces with Portland’s Jewish Family and Child Service (which already provides wonderful services for seniors and Holocaust survivors). JFCS is in the middle of performing background checks for volunteers and will be ready to serve seniors soon.
“We’re on a fast pace to secure a solid infrastructure of tools and dedicated volunteers working in various roles so that once we open our program up to seniors, we can see their needs through to completion,” says Sallie. “Positive Charge! PDX’s mission is to Amplify Kindness, so on that note, we do our best to promote our activities to others within and outside our community to replicate or ‘amplify’ them in an effort to create a positive impact elsewhere, just as the EDCJCC and GW Hillel were able to do for us.”
The templates and tools that have been created for this project will be made available for others to replicate in their communities.
“We have a very generous and engaged community, and we are very excited, once again, to offer another opportunity for everyone to create a positive impact within our community and world,” says Sallie.
For more information:
- The volunteer registration form link is: https://forms.gle/X1xXVeTWs8kbsP8D6
- The senior registration form link is: https://forms.gle/GaaZq89DpJyTnsgg8
- The email contacts for questions are: Vaccine@PositiveChargePDX.org and FriendlyCallers@JFCS-Portland.org