When the COVID-19 pandemic began, it took a toll on our Workforce 360° Comprehensive Case Management and Employment Program (CCMEP) in Geauga County. Several work sites shut down to prevent the spread of the virus, leaving participants without many options to continue building their skills. Resilient as ever, they decided to turn the situation into an opportunity to give back to their community.
Over the summer, 11 participants spent more than 2,000 hours making 1,150 “mismatched” masks to donate to local hospital systems. Now, as we move into the vaccination phase of this global health crisis, our CCMEP youth are once again stepping in to fill a need. When the Geauga County Health Department put out a call for help with vaccine distribution, three CCMEP participants immediately answered. Initially, they started out as greeters – welcoming individuals and putting them at ease as they arrived for their vaccines – but quickly evolved into so much more. From calling names for appointments, to sanitizing chairs and monitoring people after they receive their shots, they are doing it all.
“These guys are great! They are self-starters,” said Tom Quade, Geauga County Health Commissioner. “They came up with the idea of sanitizing chairs between clinic groups and did it themselves. At another clinic, we had an issue with someone who didn’t feel well. Without prompting, they moved chairs away from that person and assisted with assuring their privacy.”
What started out as a commitment for only a few days a week quickly grew into these participants working three to four days consistently, at nearly 10 vaccine sites across Geauga County. “I know I am helping people in need and I love it,” one participant said. This is the first collaboration of its kind in the state of Ohio between CCMEP youth and a county health department. The hope is to continue this partnership throughout the entire vaccination process and expand the relationship in the future beyond vaccine distribution during COVID-19.
“These three young men are really making a dent in their county by helping out the way they are,” said Kim Brown, OhioGuidestone Regional CCMEP Program Manager for Lake and Geauga Counties. “It helps our youth build a relationship between them and the county that makes a difference in their lives.”