By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Vera Moore is emblematic of what it means to be a volunteer.
She’s provided a helping hand at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance for more than two decades, caring for patients and families.
But the COVID-19 pandemic brought a whole new twist to Moore’s volunteer experience.
She’s not alone. The long-time volunteer was one of 120 area seniors who helped deliver 118,000 doses of vaccine to area residents by donating their time helping run the COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic at the John D. Bradley Centre.
For their efforts, Moore and 119 of her colleagues were recently awarded the Chatham-Kent Senior of the Year award for 2021.
The 78-year-old Charing Cross resident started working at the clinic after getting her first shot at the centre.
“Someone said they needed volunteers,” the Union Gas retiree told The Voice recently, so she stepped up to help.
Due to pandemic protocols, volunteers had been barred from helping at the hospital, so Moore jumped at the chance to help at the clinic two to three days per week.
The experience at the Bradley centre, said Moore, was unlike anything in the past.
Moore said the shifts weren’t “cut and dry” workdays as conditions at the clinic – which ran seven days a week for months – were always changing.
Bringing it all together involved a lot of preparation.
“We had a meeting and an update every day to make the clinic work better,” Moore added.
Calling herself a volunteer “Jill-of-all-trades” who “should have been a nurse,” Moore explained that working at the clinic was a team effort with volunteer and staff roles blending together seamlessly.
“We had really good results,” Moore said. “The Bradley Centre was extraordinary and I do believe is was a first where they had to start from square one.
“I was really impressed,” she added. “The staff made the volunteers welcome. I don’t think there were ever any complaints about it.”
Being part of the clinic’s well-oiled machine was an honour for Moore.
“I was very proud to be part of it,” she said.
CKHA volunteer resources specialist Kathryn Kielstra said the volunteers came through in a big way.
“We were delighted to have them back,” Kielstra noted, adding the effort from the senior volunteers exemplified the “spirit of community.
“We want to say a big thanks to everyone for getting it (the centre) up and running,” Kielstra said.
The mass vaccination effort had another benefit as it saw an additional 140 new recruits added to the hospital’s volunteer roster.
Along with the 2021 award, the Senior of the Year for 2020 award was presented on Oct. 8 by Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff and South Kent Coun. Clare Latimer. Latimer is chair of the Chatham-Kent Senior Expo in Blenheim, where the award ceremony is usually held.
Chatham resident Carolyn Powers has also been recognized for her life-long contributions to the community. Powers has served area scouting for nearly 60 years, in addition to service club work, welcoming newcomers to the area and her efforts in drug and alcohol education.
As Ontario moves into the final stages of reopening, the CKHA is currently looking at again welcoming volunteers onsite.