Boots on the ground: AmeriCorps members support COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Our Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) AmeriCorps members can typically be found planting native trees and shrubs, removing invasive species, or building trails. When a disaster takes place, our members and staff are ready to pitch in. This spring, they have been helping the state respond to the coronavirus pandemic through supporting vaccine distribution.

Supporting Central and Eastern Washington

Five people stand in a parking lot a few feet away from each other, shoulder to shoulder, wearing reflective vests and face masks.

A crew of AmeriCorps members, who typically serve in the Walla Walla area, gathers briefly for a group photo during deployment. Photo submitted by Nellie Hannah.

In partnership with Washington Department of Health, our AmeriCorps members are serving as general support at COVID-19 vaccination points of distribution (PODs) in Benton, Chelan (also serving Douglas), and Spokane counties.

Since March, three crews at a time have deployed to screen community members for vaccine eligibility and side-effects, direct traffic, conduct data entry, and assist with other emerging tasks. As of April 8, 32,176 vaccines have been administered at the Kennewick POD in Benton County and as of April 1, 23,022 vaccines have been administered at the Spokane POD.

Hear first-hand from field teams

A person stands indoors on a short staircase wearing an orange vest and face mask.

AmeriCorps member Milo Stapleton served at the vaccine POD in Wenatchee. Photo submitted by Milo.

“We’ve been talking to everyone coming through after getting vaccinated,” said WCC crew supervisor Nellie Hannah, as they wrapped up their three-week deployment in late March at the Kennewick POD. “We make sure [community members] have their records and book their second appointment.”

For some WCC members, this is their first disaster response deployment. WCC member Milo Stapleton was interested in the opportunity for both personal and community-oriented reasons.

“We learned a considerable amount of what disaster response actually looks like. We were thrown face-to-face into conditions that we had only read about during FEMA certifications,” he said. “Thanks to [fellow WCC member] Nick DeHollander, we were all encouraged to learn a small amount of functional Spanish to take the weight off the workload of translators, and extend a hand of comfort to the community we were serving. It was immediately and recognizably appreciated by the patients.”

Serving throughout the pandemic

A person holds up a tally counter in their right hand while wearing a face mask and blue vest.

AmeriCorps member Gustavo Reese served at the Spokane POD. Photo by Joe Hall.

In 2020, our AmeriCorps members set up shelters for COVID-19 isolation and quarantine in King County and helped produce COVID-19 test kits in Thurston County. This fall, members helped support an AmeriCorps disaster response remotely. Learn more about WCC’s service activities this year on our blog.

Join WCC

Disaster response is one opportunity of many that our WCC AmeriCorps program offers young adults and military veterans. We’re currently recruiting for three-month WCC AmeriCorps members on select field crews statewide! Visit our website to learn more and apply.

With 52 field crews and an individual placement (internship) program, there are plenty of opportunities within WCC to gain hands-on experience in habitat restoration, trail building, education, or environmental monitoring, and more.