Esperanza is thrilled to announce that they have been awarded funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to do COVID and flu vaccine equity work and programming for a third year with the Latino community of Hunting Park. Esperanza will have the first Our Voices, Our Vaccines Steering Committee meeting in August, and will be working with Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) to create lesson plans and workshops for the members to take part in. Esperanza will also work with APM to host an in-person kick-off event and end of the year celebration for the participants.

The Our Voices, Our Vaccines Steering Committee will consist of community members from different categories such as pastors, business owners, block captains, youth, and community-based organizations. For example, Efrain Cotto, Gilbert Alfaro, and David Medina are local pastors in North Philadelphia that will represent the faith community in the steering committee. Local business owner Maria Teresa will be representing the Hunting Park corridor. Additionally, block captains and active community members, Wallace Hill and Constance Day will be attending. Furthermore, Nilda Diaz and Pedro Delvalle will be speaking for the youth and young adults. Lastly, Jamese Williams, Rose Duarte, Maryann Salib, and Esperanza Health Center’s COVID-19 Ambassadors work for local community-based organizations in Hunting Park, and they will be a part of the group as well.

The steering committee members help their community in a variety of different ways. The pastors have helped people who are experiencing homelessness, they host bible study events for young people, and they preach at services every week. Local businesses have shared flyers and resources that help keep their customers safe. The block captains advocate for their neighbors, and they help keep their blocks safe, beautiful, and clean. The youth are fantastic at engaging young adults and their peers. Lastly, the local community-based organizations have been instrumental as trusted messengers.

The steering committee members will shape and lead the outreach process to advance towards equity in vaccine uptake in North Philadelphia. Additionally, during the first few meetings we will train members on the basics of marketing and communications, how to effectively interact with others, and how to address misinformation and disinformation. We will also ask the members for feedback on existing health communication materials and will work together to make new materials to supplement pre-existing. Throughout the year, we will create workshops for the members to participate in such as coming up with talking points for when distributing COVID-19 materials and how to address fear of needles and COVID-19 fatigue. Lastly, we will invite the steering committee to some health-related events throughout the year.

COVID-19 has been spreading for the past three years and mixed messaging has been prevalent and will continue to occur. People are experiencing COVID fatigue and are not as vigilant. Additionally, inconsistent guidance and messaging causes doubt about whether the authorities can be trusted, and confusion about what to do to stay safe and healthy. To deal with COVID-19 fatigue and mixed messaging, the steering committee members will be trained to address misinformation and disinformation in the community.

All of the steering committee members agree that their community is resilient and brave. That’s why they believe that working together to provide important COVID and flu resources can ensure that people stay healthy and strong. They are a wonderful asset to the Esperanza network and the community as they are extremely dedicated.


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