“Try it; you will love it!” says vaccination clinic volunteer
When resident Hiemi Haines emigrated to the United States from Korea with her family in 1976, she was a teenager, and learning English was hard. “I wasn’t able to speak English for about a year, so I learned to rely on people’s facial expressions,” Haines said. This ability to understand and communicate with people who speak other languages has been a valuable skill lately; Haines volunteers at several vaccination clinics around the metro Denver area where multiple languages are spoken. At a clinic recently, 20 different languages were counted. “You almost think you are somewhere else,” Haines laughingly exclaimed.
Helping her parents, who are in their 80s, get vaccinated is what prompted Haines to help out during the pandemic. Haines worked diligently, early on, to find a place where her parents could get vaccinated. “I found this clinic I had never heard of before, and they welcomed us. When I brought my parents back for their second shot, I started bugging them to let me volunteer there,” said Haines. “We need to give back,” she added.
In addition to volunteering at the clinic that took care of her parents, Haines volunteers at several other clinics that focus on underserved communities. Haines helps with registration and making people feel comfortable through the process. She even brought delicious donuts one morning to the clinics.
Haines, a retired chemical engineer, has volunteered her time and talents in the past but she said, “the vaccination clinics are unique because everyone is happy. The people there have wanted this for so long and they are so relieved. It is literally the happiest place on earth.”
While volunteering, Haines has cleverly recruited many young people to help translate and to help with registration. Haines has recruited neighbors, friends and her family to volunteer as well. She said, “When my daughter and son-in-law volunteer, they come up with so many great ideas!” Haines encourages young people “who are smarter and much more efficient,” she said, to step in and volunteer.
While medical experience is needed to put the vaccine in people’s arms, Haines said there are many nonmedical needs at a vaccination clinic; ambassadors are needed to welcome people and walk them through the process, volunteers are needed to do temperature checks, sanitize, direct traffic and more.
“We need lots of volunteers to get everyone vaccinated. It’s so important!” Haines exclaimed.
Visit https://youtu.be/ndpTmNJk6Pw and https://www.auroratv.org/video/masks-made-love to watch videos on People TV and Aurora TV about Haines and her mother, Jessica Kim, who promoted mask use early on. The mother-daughter duo made and distributed thousands of masks using material and elastic Haines had saved from her mother’s sewing business.
To learn more about becoming a volunteer, visit www.9healthvolunteer.org.
Visit vaccinespotter.org which is constantly updated, to learn about eligibility and to find a vaccine appointment.