It's National Volunteer Week, and for Simcoe County resident, Shawn Fendley, stepping up to offer her assistance at local vaccination clinics is something she is happy to be doing.
"I've kept an interested eye on what's going on throughout pandemic and this seemed like a practical way to assist with an initiative that is vital to us," she said. "Seeing what the frontline workers have to do, you feel like you can do a little bit because they have done so much," she said.
Fendley has been retired for nine years and worked in public health for 34. She was made aware of the volunteer opportunities at the clinics after a friend who had seen a call out on the local health unit website mentioned it to her.
She applied in late January and heard back a few weeks later confirming her interest before being assigned a position.
She says her role at the clinics is customer service oriented, helping support the people coming to the clinic and working through the vaccination process.
The process starts once residents arrive with a pre-screening, followed by registration where vaccine eligibility is confirmed. There is then another queue for getting the shot, followed by an after-care area where people must wait 15 minutes post-injection to ensure no reaction. After 15 minutes, residents then must check out.
"We are really about supporting them (the clinic workers) through that process," said Fendley.
In total there are approximately 260 individuals volunteering to support the vaccine clinics in Simcoe-Muskoka.
The volunteers have a wealth of knowledge and previous volunteer involvement as current or retired nurses, teachers, police, allied health professionals, business executives, event planners, students, public servants, government employees and community citizens.
There are three to four volunteers set up at every vaccination clinic. Fendley has split her time between the Holly Recreation Centre in Barrie and the Orillia Rotary Place.
The volunteers work four-hour shifts with some rotation of positions throughout the day.
"My experience has been those four hours go by quickly, with steady flow," says Fendley.
So far, she says her volunteer experience has been a positive one, and people receiving their vaccines have been very gracious.
"I have never been thanked so many times, it's quite a happy place to be because people are relieved," she said. "It seems like a minor thing you are doing but it's very appreciated."
She commended how well organized the clinics are run. She noted there have been some horror stories at some clinics in the GTA of people waiting outside for hours in long lineups outside for their shots, but that is not the case at the clinics here.
"It works really quite well," she said. "The volunteers are very pleased to be here too and assist in any way they can."