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  • Writer's pictureSimone

Just Tryin' To Help

Currently reading: ElfQuest The Final Quest Vol. 2 (just finished), Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Quarantining my volunteer clothes on top of the fridge.

Back in October, I started looking up volunteer opportunities related to the pandemic because my job has been closed since March and despite all the creative projects I've been working on, I have a little toooo much free time. Score one for the rat race, I guess.

I'm also not a high-risk person when it comes to Covid-19, and it seemed like the right thing to do. So I came across CORE, the disaster relief organization co-founded by Sean Penn, that runs several big testing sites, and I signed up online to become a volunteer. Since then, once a week, I've been getting up wayyyy earlier than I normally do, and hauling myself out to stand in the elements with a lot of safety gear on and demonstrate through car windows how to take the "self-administered oral test."

"Do not put it in your nose! No!"

It's been hilarious/frustrating to see how poorly people follow directions, but also rewarding because so many of them are openly grateful for our help. I've tried to be as positive and patient as I can, and it's always nice when people wave goodbye and tell me to "Stay safe," etc. The staff is made up of mostly twenty-somethings, fresh out of college and often overwhelmed, but they have the energy and they do a great job. The other volunteers are often retired folks, so there aren't a lot of people in my age range, but it's been interesting to chat with them all.

We've had cold days, when everyone disappeared into their cars on break; windy days, when all the parking cones, barriers, and canopies started blowing away; days so hot that I went home with a headache and lay in bed; and one heavy rainstorm that I luckily avoided! If you don't normally work outside all day, you might not know it can be a wild experience, even in a mild climate like ours in L.A.

Since last Friday, however, everything has switched over to vaccinations instead of testing - very suddenly and with almost no time to prepare. There were camera crews on site and Sean Penn showed up, and everybody was figuring things out as they went along . . . in 86 degree weather in January! But they made it work. These guys are honestly so inspiring.

So now, once a week, I'll be doing things like directing cars and timing the 15-minute wait after the shots. (Don't worry, I will not personally be injecting anyone.) I don't know how much longer it'll be before my job restarts and I'll have to drop out, but I'm happy that I was able to participate for at least a few months.

We're gonna beat this thing.

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