Three community members have become vaccine champions. They are involved with Esperanza’s Our Voices, Our Vaccines project. They have been a great asset to the project as they have helped with the development and dissemination of health materials in the community. Mr. Wally and Ms. Connie are block captains and Ms. Gwen is a community champion. All three of them are part of this group. They all live locally in Hunting Park and they help their community in a variety of different ways. Specifically, they advocate for their neighbors, and they help keep their blocks safe, beautiful, and clean. Additionally, they welcome newcomers that move in, and they strive to be approachable to make people feel comfortable.

Ms. Connie, Ms. Gwen, and Mr. Wally had to make a major shift when the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020, it was challenging for their block as they had to adapt and figure out their new normal; however, they continued to show up for their neighbors and helped them navigate through the challenging times. Throughout the pandemic, they shared flyers with their neighbors about COVID-19 and safely checked in with one another during quarantine. During the height of the pandemic, they helped their neighbors by running small errands for them and offering rides to the vaccination clinics.  They were seen as trusted voices, and they made sure neighbors had access to benefits and resources that would help them. They continue to support their neighbors by making sure that they are informed so that they can make the best decisions for their health and their family’s health.

They are all thankful for the development of the COVID-19 vaccine as it has helped prevent serious disease and complications. They believe it is important for their neighbors to know the facts and they all try to help de-bunk myths about the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines within their own block. They mentioned that there are a lot of false rumors in the community about the COVID-19 vaccine. To combat inaccurate information, they typically canvas their block and pass out flyers that contain factual information about vaccines. When they canvas, they talk to their neighbors about the importance of wearing a mask when sick and remind their neighbors that parents should talk with their healthcare provider to make a plan for their children to get vaccinated as well. They also mentioned that some people are afraid of the vaccine and that is why they do not want to get vaccinated. When this occurs, they try to meet people where they are and provide their neighbors with the right information.

Ms. Connie, Mr. Wally, and Ms. Gwen want their neighbors and their community to be well, united, and prosperous. They agreed that their community is resilient and brave and that working together can make Hunting Park a good place to live and raise a family. They are a wonderful asset to the Esperanza network and the community as they are extremely dedicated. Lastly, they are committed to using science to inform, support, and advocate for positive change. 

This article is part of Esperanza’s community COVID-19 and flu vaccine project (Our Voices, Our Vaccines), which informs and engages Latinos on public health and vaccination programs impacting their well-being.


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