By Tammy Pitts - MNA Director of Communications
Chances are, when you arrive at a vaccination clinic in Michigan the first person to greet you is a volunteer. And one of those volunteers last month at Ford Field was Michigan Nonprofit Association’s Meridith Murley. The mass vaccination clinic in downtown Detroit opened in March for a span of eight weeks with the goal of inoculating as many Michiganders as possible inside the stadium.
Murley is no stranger when it comes to volunteering. After all, she is the VISTA program manager here at MNA. She was searching for a way to reach out and serve others during the pandemic. “Knowing that Detroit has been really impacted by COVID, and because so many VISTAs in our program serve there, I was drawn to finding ways to serve there,” Murley explained. “I found out about this opportunity through one of our partners, the Michigan Community Service Commission, and this seemed to be perfect, plus I was able to get vaccinated.”
The Ford Field clinic, which is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is now in its final days of operation and administers both Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines. Michigan thus far, has vaccinated 4,166,575 residents with hundreds of thousands of those vaccinations happening at Ford Field.
Volunteers like Murley are key at vaccine sites. They are needed to do everything from checking people in, to screening people for potential adverse reactions, and directing traffic to ensure that vaccination sites run smoothly. “I spent a lot of my time escorting folks in wheelchairs through the process which gave me a lot of time to chat and learn from them,” Murley said. She worked the morning shift which she said was pretty busy. Lunch and snacks are provided for all volunteers.
There are many reasons people volunteer- for starters, it just feels good. When people donate their time, they are helping to make an impact because they can choose where and how to make a difference. “For me, it’s about perspective and humility,” said Murley. “Volunteering is the fastest way to get invested in your community; it’s so much harder to discount the experience of folks in your community if you know them and their experience.”
Another benefit of volunteering? You get the chance to meet others and expand your network. “Getting involved helps you get to know people, even if it’s just for a few hours,” Murley said. Additionally, engaging in community service strengthens communities because when you donate your time and skills, you’re helping to change the world around you. “If we’re looking to make a real difference in the world, oftentimes the place to start is closest to home,” Murley noted. “Detroit is an incredible city, and to be a very small part of such a huge effort was really humbling.”