UJA-Federation has awarded $588,000 in grants for vaccine access and education to over 90 community-based organizations in New York. We’re sharing how the funding helped two grassroots nonprofits, Red Hook Community Justice Center and the Red Hook Initiative, reach out directly to a Red Hook neighborhood.
For the Red Hook community in Brooklyn, which includes people of color, public housing residents, immigrants, and non-English speakers, vaccine hesitancy takes on different forms: Skepticism stemming from a history of medical racism in the United States. Tech challenges for seniors and people who don’t have a computer or internet access. Language barriers. And barriers to traveling to a vaccine site outside of the neighborhood.
That’s why the Red Hook Community Justice Center and the Red Hook Initiative, local nonprofits, developed a plan to reach out directly to community members. A UJA grant is being used to broaden this effort.
“It’s easier for someone to just talk to a person they know and trust and get their shot at a community vaccine event,” says Deputy Director of the Red Hook Community Justice Center Viviana Gordon.
When a small local pharmacy had access to hundreds of vaccines but not enough space to administer shots in the arms, the Red Hook Community Justice Center and Red Hook Initiative made a strategic call. Actually, they made thousands of calls.
They mobilized volunteers to make more than 2,000 phone calls inviting people to get the shot at an event scheduled at the Red Hook Initiative. The phone effort included calls made in Spanish, Mandarin, and Cantonese.
Phone Calls Pay Off
The calls resulted in 120 residents showing up for the allocated slots to receive a first Moderna dose, and hundreds more on a waiting list. When the time came to receive their second dose, four weeks later, 119 of the 120 residents returned for their second shot.
“The pharmacy told us they hosted many pop-up vaccine sites, and this was the highest turnout rate for the second dose that they’ve seen,” Viviana notes. “Usually there’s more than a twenty percent drop-off.”
To build on this momentum, the Red Hook Community Justice Center and Red Hook Initiative offered another community vaccine event for more people to get their first doses. The phone calls paid off when 210 local residents showed up for their vaccines.
“We’re planning to make more calls now that vaccines are eligible for everyone over 16,” Viviana says. “We’ll use UJA funds to compensate community members to do direct outreach to residents of all ages who may be isolated, homebound, lack technology, or don’t speak English. Also, UJA funds support food and supplies for our pop-up vaccine clinics. When we run vaccine events it takes a lot of volunteers to create a good, calm experience. The grant will allow us to continue this effort.”