San Fernando Valley senior center steps up to vaccinate the community’s most vulnerable population

ONEgeneration’s sign on its building in Van Nuys, Calif., on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. The organization hosted a pop-up clinic, which provided 300 vaccinations to members of the community.

Blake Williams, Reporter

ONEgeneration, a senior center that serves the San Fernando Valley, and Providence, a healthcare company, partnered to host a COVID-19 vaccine pop-up clinic on April 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the ONEgeneration facility in Van Nuys to provide 300 vaccinations to members of the community, specifically targeting those who are most vulnerable or who have had barriers to getting the vaccine.

This was the eighth vaccination clinic ONEgeneration has hosted. Another pop-up clinic will take place on May 19 to deliver second doses. People who received their vaccination on Wednesday were automatically scheduled for the May 19 clinic.

A welcome sign at the pop-up vaccination vaccine clinic in front of the waiting area at ONEgeneration in Van Nuys, Calif., on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. The clinic provided 300 vaccinations to members of the community. (Blake Williams)

“I think it’s really important for community-based organizations like ONEgeneration to play a role in the vaccination distribution efforts, especially because we have access to our most vulnerable communities and demographics in the San Fernando Valley, like seniors,” ONEgeneration President Jenna Hauss said. “We feel very lucky and privileged to be able to partner with Providence to offer easy access vaccination pop-up sites for those individuals that are hard to reach and are more vulnerable.”

ONEgeneration was originally supposed to receive 400 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but the U.S. paused the use of the vaccine. However, Providence was able to acquire 300 doses of the Moderna vaccine for the event.

The clinic had seven Providence staff members, eight ONEgeneration staff members and 16 volunteers, who were mostly nursing students from West Coast University and Los Angeles Valley College.

ONEgeneration workers Illeana Quintero, left, Atoosa Youkhana, center, and Stephanie Ruiz, right, stand in front of the ONEgeneration building in Van Nuys, Calif., on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. The pop-up vaccine clinic hosted by the organization provided 300 vaccinations to members of the community. (Blake Williams)

“I think it’s actually amazing,” said Michelle Hobird, a ONEgeneration staff member. “I think it’s really cool that a place that serves seniors, and that used to serve as an adult daycare, which couldn’t during COVID, has opened up to host these vaccine clinics.”

Hauss believes ONEgeneration has been able to meet the needs of people who want the vaccine but had a physical barrier toward getting one, such as transportation needs or just not being able to make an appointment online.

To help break those barriers, ONEgeneration partnered with Lyft, which gave ONEgeneration coupons that allowed them to transport people to the site. They also worked with the Los Angeles Fire Department to vaccinate people who are unable to leave their homes.

Tori Adler, a ONEgeneration member, was one of the people who needed transportation to get the vaccine. She was happy to be getting the vaccine.

“They did everything very well,” Adler said after receiving her vaccine. “[It was] very well organized, and they had enough signage so that you knew where you had to go and what you had to do without being stupid about it. And the nurse who gave me the shot was very careful.”

Alann Bemis, another vaccine recipient, said the government-run vaccination system made it difficult to get an appointment or asked him to travel far for an appointment.

Juana Torres, the community health project manager for ONEgeneration, stands in front of the organization’s building in Van Nuys, Calif., on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. The pop-up vaccine clinic hosted by ONEgeneration provided 300 vaccinations to members of the community. (Blake Williams)

Bemis found out about ONEgeneration’s vaccination efforts through the Reseda Neighborhood Watch and decided to sign up.

“I’m just happy to finally get the vaccination, to get this over with, and move on,” Bemis said.

Along with getting people vaccinated, ONEgeneration is offering additional services. These services include programs for helping people pay Los Angeles Department of Water and Power bills and food assistance programs.

“It’s really cool because you’re not gonna find that at any other clinic,” said Juana Torres, the community health project manager for ONEgeneration. “Nobody’s gonna ask you, ‘hey, do you need help paying your LADWP bill?’ If so, we can help.”

The biggest barrier toward getting people vaccinated has been reaching those who are hesitant about getting a vaccine, according to Hauss. ONEgeneration was given a grant from the California Community Foundation to create outreach resources that will educate and inform the community about the vaccines.

ONEgeneration uses their programs to build off one another for outreach. When their outreach team is out promoting the LADWP bill assistance program, they are also providing information about vaccines, and vice versa. The outreach programs also include giving Angelenos information on ONEGeneration’s vaccine clinics and assistance programs at food pantries, churches and more. They have also recently begun providing outreach at local homeless shelters.

ONEgeneration has also partnered with Anthem Blue Cross. Marisol Rivera and Lysa Crawford, who work in the Medicare programs department of Anthem Blue Cross, were at the clinic, offering Starbucks coffee, Knott’s Berry Farm Shortbread Cookies and bottled water while also providing information about Medicare.

Marisol Rivera, left, and Lysa Crawford, right, who work with Anthem Blue Cross, stand behind a table that offered Starbucks coffee, cookies, and bottled water to people who were at the pop-up vaccine clinic at ONEgeneration in Van Nuys, Calif., on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. They also provided information about Medicare and explained benefits to people who were eligible. (Blake Williams)

The clinic was also open for anyone older than 16 to make a vaccination appointment, although priority was given to the seniors and underserved community members who wanted an appointment. This was the first vaccine clinic ONEgeneration has hosted that was open to everyone.

“I think it’s just great that we’re doing this,” said Atoosa Youkhana, a ONEgeneration staff member. “And hopefully more people come now because it’s open to anyone 16 and older.”

After the clinic on May 19, ONEgeneration does not have any more scheduled, but they hope to host more in the future to continue the vaccination efforts.