The Volunteers Cohort (Florida)
Russell Schwartz, an elementary school principal, and Katherine Quirk, a pediatric hematology/oncology nurse, started looking for ways to help Florida seniors navigate the state’s difficult vaccine rollout online in late December 2020.
On new year’s day, they decided to launch a Facebook group to help provide information and get people appointments
Today, the South Florida COVID-19 Vaccination Info Facebook Group they created currently has more than 30,000 members.
The purpose of the group is to share timely, verified COVID-19 vaccination information in a politically-free environment. This information ranges from vaccination availability, detailed information on securing an appointment, to day of vaccination experience.
The group is served by volunteers who serve by moderating the group, researching vaccination locations, procedures, and opportunities, contacting seniors and individuals that need assistance with the process, and securing vaccination appointments.
While the group is focused on providing information for individuals to utilize to book appointments independently, we empathize that many residents in our community lack the technology, the technical skills, or the ability to use this information to secure their own appointment.
“Our volunteers serve by bridging the technology gap in these cases, and assist in securing appointments,” Russell Schwartz said. “As availability and qualifying groups continue to expand and evolve, South Florida COVID-19 Vaccination Info will continue to serve as a resource through all stages of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.”
“Katherine and I have helped launch 14 other similar groups throughout the country and have connected, and collaborated, with another 11 groups. The total amount in all of the groups is nearing 300,000,” said Russell.
A few words from those who nominated Russell and Katherine:
“Katherine Quirk and Russell Schwartz started a Facebook Group at the beginning of this year to assist South Florida seniors who are not technically savvy in navigating the very difficult system of getting the Covid-19 vaccine in south Florida. In one month’s time this group has grown to over 21,000 members and volunteers who have been able to navigate a confusing and constantly changing system in Florida and have also helped out of state family to obtain vaccines for their in-state elder family members. They do this strictly as volunteers with a “Pay It Forward” philosophy in addition to their day jobs. Katherine is pediatric oncology nurse and Russell is an elementary school principle. They ask for nothing for themselves while devoting countless hours to help others with the rigors of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. They are very worthy of this award.”