I could not shake the feeling of sitting awash in a moment of history in the making.
This week joined volunteers at the Galveston County Health Departments’ mass COVID vaccination site in League City. With more than 2,000 expected to receive their initial shots, the human faces were as diverse and colorful as tiles in a piece of mosaic art. Each face, each smile, carrying a distinctive path to moment.
My job was to work with a team of volunteers fanning out deep into the traffic, checking paperwork, confirming names, and placing bracelets on the wrists of qualifying individuals.
“Thank you, and God bless you.”
While the grey skies drizzled throughout the day, the warmth of smiles and kind words inside the cars insulated me from the cold.
Lines were long, but the payoff would represent a decisive step to protect them from the dangerous virus, which has taken over 500,000 American lives.
On a human level, spending a day looking into the eyes of people eager to get their first shot proves emotionally powerful. You see the lines on their faces, the wrinkles around the eyes, and the occasional tear welling up as the plastic bracelet snaps around their wrist.
A white full-size pickup truck pulls up, a sheriff’s deputy behind the wheel, his beige western hat nodding to the passenger. There sits a quiet older man wearing a blue WWII veteran’s hat. As I confirm his name, I can’t help but imagine what his eyes witnessed up to this moment and how he must feel. As a member of The Greatest Generation, he is here, again, front and center in a vital moment of history.
The bracelet snaps around his thin wrist; he thanks the volunteer and the truck pulls forward – the soldier’s next personal moment in history one step closer.
And then there are the cars filled with adult children driving their elderly parents for appointments, some playing the translator’s role. And with each interaction, you are reminded of the rich and powerful melting pot of our region. So many individual backstories, but all aligned with one purpose on this day.
Long lines extend beyond my view, but people are excited and almost – if I say – giddy. Today is their day, the opportunity to protect themselves, their friends, and their loved ones. Their effort is every bit as important as the volunteers working the site. They, too, were playing a critical role in pushing back the COVID threat.
And then, behind the scenes, are volunteer health care workers: retired medical doctors, nurses, and others showing up to play their part. And long after the lines ended on my side, they continued for the better part of an hour.
Thanks to the Galveston County Health Department, the volunteers, and everyone who played a part in receiving their initial shots this week. Each contribution is critical.
This vaccine effort is our moment in history, each shot bringing us closer to winning this war against the virus.
If you wish to learn more about volunteering, please visit https://gcoem.org/volunteers-needed-for-covid-19-vaccine-hub-sites