A volunteer answers the ‘call’ and travels the area to help in vaccination clinics

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“We sincerely believe this is important, and we need to help in some way,” says volunteer Jody Mayhew

When the local health unit called for help, Jody Mayhew was ready to receive it.

The retired director moved to the southern Georgian Bay area in 2013. She started volunteering for a few different organizations at the time and became an active member of the Collingwood Library Board. . Then when COVID hit, she said for the whole freshman year, she “kind of just sat back and really didn’t do anything.”

Restless and eager to do more, she began looking for volunteer opportunities where she could volunteer her time after receiving her first shot.

“It was almost a calling…I really needed to do something,” Mayhew said. “I was vaccinated and was staying home, but there was what needed to be done…more.”

A friend recommended that she explore opportunities with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU), and she immediately got involved. After completing an extensive process to be accepted and ensure she was properly trained, Mayhew volunteered at her first vaccination clinic on April 3, 2021.

“It’s become a moral goal on some level, where you recognize there’s an opportunity to help,” Mayhew said.

From April to the end of August, Mayhew traveled to Barrie two to three times a week to volunteer at the Holly Recreation Centre. She also shuttled to Alliston, Innisfil and Bradford when needed.

In August 2021, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit ended its community mass vaccination clinics and sent a thank you note to the approximately 550 people who collectively donated more than 27,500 volunteer hours to support operations. vaccination clinics.

In November, the health unit restarted community mass vaccination clinics alongside the rollout of booster doses to the general population and renewed its call for volunteers.

Mayhew raised his hand again and has been back and forth between Collingwood, Wasaga Beach and Stayner ever since. She continues to volunteer about twice a week and has no intention of stopping until the need arises.

“For me, volunteering at SMDHU clinics reaffirmed the importance of kindness and empathy,” Mayhew said. “Our clients range in age from five to over 100 and it’s so important to acknowledge each one of them and listen to their story. We work as a team and support each other where possible.

Since the early days of the pandemic, thousands of volunteers, from students to retirees, have performed a range of tasks, from welcoming people to clinics and testing them for COVID, to directing them to their posts. injection and to check them in follow-up.

Mayhew said a big part of her role is just to chat with people and make sure they’re comfortable with what’s going on.

“I’ve learned to listen better through all of this and really hear what people are saying,” Mayhew said. “Eyes say it all, you can tell from a person’s eyes if they’re in panic mode, if they’re nervous or excited… Being able to pick up on those little things has become important.”

Throughout the year, Mayhew has heard stories of hundreds of people who have been through the clinics and faced many different situations, but she said one theme that has emerged the most is that of “the ‘universal excitement’.

From a determined five-year-old who didn’t even flinch when she got her shot, to the man over 100 who walked in to get his booster shot without any support.

“These are the magic moments that you cling to,” Mayhew said.

Another thing Mayhew has learned is how to work with a team again – she humbly says she is just a small part of the big organization that makes a clinic successful.

“You really are part of the team, and that’s really important,” she said. “All the volunteers I’ve worked with, they all understand. Everyone is there for the same reason. We sincerely believe this is important, and we need to help in a small way.

The health unit is not currently recruiting volunteers for immunization clinics. For future volunteer opportunities and to learn more about the work volunteers do, visit the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. website here.

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