Post by contributing author, Rosemary Alpert
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is…What are you doing for others?’”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The third week of January, we honored the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; welcomed President Biden and Vice President Harris; and, across the country, remembered all the lives touched and lost by the Coronavirus. With deep gratitude and compassion, two words rise in my heart: community and service.
Volunteerism: The policy or practice of volunteering one’s time or talents for charitable, educational, or worthwhile activities, especially in one’s community. (Dictionary.com)
Since April 21, 2020, the Skagit County COVID-19 Testing Site has welcomed 196 volunteers to assist with all aspects of support during the pandemic: traffic control, registration, testing, contact tracing and vaccination. These volunteers stepped up to the frontline with the purpose to serve our community. Skagit County Department of Emergency Management’s Volunteer Program Coordinator, Tina Bobbit, coordinates, organizes and schedules all the volunteers. Tina recently shared that as of January 15, 2021, volunteers have given approximately 13,000 hours in support of our community.
While working at the testing site, I have witnessed the best of volunteerism, remarkable and impressive. Some of the employees at the testing site began early on as volunteers. Each volunteer has a story and reason why they are motivated to serve. All volunteers are Registered WA State Emergency Workers, registered and coordinated through the Skagit County Department of Emergency Management (DEM).
Volunteers represent various groups:
- Skagit County CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) members from all over the County
- Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES)
- WA State Temporary Emergency Workers—Skagit County, registered to assist with the COVID-19 response drive-thru testing and vaccination site
- Skagit County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue
- Snohomish County Medical Reserve Corps
- Civil Air Patrol (CAP) will be assisting with our Vaccine Operations
In addition, community agencies around our county have shared paid employees. True community collaboration during these challenging and transformational times. In reference to the awesome volunteers, Tina shared this, “The volunteers are what make my job easy, as they give so much of their time and dedication to helping the community during this COVID-19 response. Appreciate all that they do!”
I asked a few volunteers at the testing site to share their thoughts in reference to their community service:
“The reason I decide to volunteer is because I was so impressed with how friendly the staff was and how quickly the entire process was at the testing site. I’ve since become a temporary part-time employee. It is a great work environment, feels like I’m doing something positive for the community.”
“I was trained as a CERT, Community Emergency Response Team, member. As COVID broke out, it made sense to me to give a hand at the test site. I am a traffic guide. It is very safe. People stay in their cars, everybody is wearing masks. The COVID site managers make sure everybody follows safety protocol. Nobody that has worked at the site has gotten COVID. I volunteer twice a week for four hours. It has been a very satisfying job. We are appreciated by the management. It is a way for me to give back to the community.”
“Some reasons why I started volunteering was to mainly help out the community. I want to see us better as a community and help give information to families that may not be as informed. My experience so far has been great. I really enjoy it!”
As our National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, wrote so eloquently in the presidential inauguration poem, The Hill We Climb, in honor of all the volunteers and community members who tirelessly serve our communities, the following words are for you:
“When day comes, we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
If only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it.”
If you are interested in volunteering at the COVID-19 testing/vaccine site, please contact Tina Bobbit for more information. She can be reached through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling the DEM Main Office at 360-416-1850. Specifically, we are seeking volunteers who can speak Spanish, and can work in either traffic or registration. We are also seeking those who are trained medical personnel.