When we were just finishing setting up, people of all ages started to pour into the gym. What can only be described as an organized chaos ensued. In the gym, we had about 100 chairs lined up for people waiting for an available practitioner to give them their vaccine, and my job was to direct people to their next spot - their vaccine spot. We had multiple people that didn’t speak English, so I would walk them personally to their station to help them feel more comfortable. As soon as a vaccine station opened, the student at that station would raise their hands and wave at me, motioning for me to send another person over. As you can imagine with about twenty vaccine stations, there was often one open, keeping me on my toes throughout the evening. I was met with a lot of smiling faces and “thank you”s, as the vaccine is seen as a light at the end of the tunnel we know as COVID-19.
The vaccine clinic was organized by Mr. Lee and Dr. Trinh, who founded St. Joseph Primary Care to help parishioners at St. Ann who do not have health insurance, as well as serve those who are insured or underinsured. They have big hearts and have been volunteering their time and staff almost every week for vaccine clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The mere presence of a volunteer brought Mr. Lee to tears, as he and his wife, Dr. Trinh started another vaccine clinic. This student volunteer from Gibbons had come to every clinic to help out and had stepped up to help in any situation where he was needed. Mr. Lee shared how much of an impact volunteers have had on the people being vaccinated, adding that the volunteers warm his and his wife’s hearts each time.
A month has passed since this experience and I still think about it daily. The impact on those vaccinated and all of those they will come into contact with is far reaching. It feels good to have been a part of such a monumental event. Volunteering has a special place in my heart, and has changed my life for the better. During my years at Gibbons, I have learned firsthand that helping others has positive benefits for you as well as those you help.
When the night started, our goal was to vaccinate 900 people. Overall, we ended up vaccinating over 1,000 people in four hours.
About The Carying Place
The Carying Place serves working homeless families with children who are experiencing homelessness by teaching life skills for attaining independent living while providing short-term housing and support services to address their individual needs.
The Carying Place (TCP) began operations in May 1993 as part of Christian Community in Action (CCA). TCP was incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization in 1998 with its own Board of Directors.
In the past 25 years, TCP has served over 450 families. About 85% of families who graduate from TCP are living independently and gainfully employed at least a year after completing the program. Currently, the program supports 9 families at a time. Families live in apartments leased by TCP in an environment similar to permanent housing except rent and utilities are paid by TCP.
As a non-profit transitional housing program in Wake County, TCP supports families in their journey to independence and self-sufficiency. This is achieved through the mentoring and guidance of Support Partners and Caring Sponsors. Families are paired with a volunteer team of Support Partners and Caring Sponsors that provide weekly guidance in managing personal finances, setting attainable goals, seeking permanent affordable housing and maintaining a job. Over a 16-week period, these families learn about the skills required for self-sufficiency through mandatory once-a-week meeting with Support Partners at a local church.
Leslie Covington joined The Carying Place as Executive Director in 2015. Leslie obtained her Social Work degree at North Carolina State University and further developed a love for outreach through her local church. Inspired with empowering at-risk and low income families, she continued her experience through her service as a Youth Director, Director of Outreach and Senior Youth Director for the YMCA of the Triangle. Leslie soon felt the need “to go deeper” with serving families and returned to NCSU for her Master of Social Work degree where she focused on mental health, clinical social work and substance abuse counseling. At this time in her life, Leslie strives to use her passion as well as her non-profit and mental health experience to lead and inspire others to achieve financial stability. When speaking of her appointment to the Carying Place, Leslie shared “I’m inspired by the legacy of such a great organization. We are breaking the cycle of poverty that plagues many families in the capital area – there is no better life mission than that!”.