Hundreds of seniors in Markham are signed up to receive their anti-coronavirus vaccinations, thanks to a ground-breaking initiative at Grace Church, Markham.
In early March, the church launched a website where seniors could sign up to book a vaccination. The church would then book an appointment on the senior’s behalf, call them up to confirm the appointment and offer to drive them there as well.
The church launched the website, www.markhamvaccinates.com, to make it easier for seniors to get their vaccinations, says Ray Lai, a member of the church who created the website. “The government was announcing a lot of changes at the time and it was quite challenging to book an appointment online, so we felt we could help.”
Word about the website spread through local churches, social media and word-of-mouth. It soon became a runaway success, filling a need in the community. As of March 24, 2,300 seniors had signed up to receive a shot and 1,500 appointments had been made for them.
To handle the demand, the church has recruited a team of volunteers from the parish, other churches and the wider community to help with booking appointments, making phone calls and providing rides. Staff of the Stouffville Public Library are also helping out.
“It has really become a grassroots ecumenical program,” says the Rev. Canon Nicola Skinner, incumbent of Grace Church. “It’s a great witness to the church looking after the neighbourhood and not just parishioners.”
Mr. Lai says a lot of seniors in the community are grateful for the work that is being done on their behalf. “A lot of them don’t know where to turn so they contact us. Some of them don’t have cars, so they’re very grateful for a ride.”
He takes no credit for the success of the project. “We’re just helping. We saw a gap, a need, and we filled it. We’re just serving the community.”
He says other churches can do something similar. “Anyone can run something like this. It doesn’t take much to set up a website, get a list together and help people.”