As COVID-19 vaccines continue to ramp up, a group in the Village of Wilmette is helping elderly and disabled residents find and secure appointments.
The Community Caretakers Program offers a free “second set of hands” from local volunteers to book available appointments, said Alex Arteaga, management analyst at the Village Manager’s Office.
If you are in need of assistance, call Arteaga at (847) 853-7502 or the Woman’s Club of Wilmette at (847) 251-0527.
“With COVID vaccine appointments becoming widely available from pharmacies, we started to hear how it was a nightmare to find appointments,” Arteaga said. “The pharmacy websites book up so quickly. So those who are not tech-savvy are having trouble. We have all these volunteers willing to help out.”
There are 114 volunteers currently registered with the program, which is coordinated by both the Village and Woman’s Club of Wilmette. They have helped 18 residents schedule or receive their first dose of the vaccine, Arteaga said.
The Village does not have direct access to vaccinations for the community, its website says, but the Village advocates on behalf of Wilmette residents to expedite the vaccination rollout in suburban Cook County.
Currently, 50 more residents are in need of assistance through the Community Caretakers Program, Arteaga added.
“We have Wilmette residents that can’t transport themselves to these appointments, so our volunteers have also been helping them drive to and from appointments,” he said.
The program began with a slightly different agenda in April 2020, with 60 volunteers offering to get groceries and prescriptions for seniors.
Since then, it has evolved.
“We have a large amount of elderly residents and they didn’t feel safe going out getting groceries and prescriptions,” Arteaga added. “We started (the program) then for residents who wanted to take advantage of it.”
Many residents began calling for assistance and the only thing the Village needed was volunteers to make it all work — and fortunately, “we had that and more.”
“We had an outpouring of help,” Arteaga said. “This entire program wouldn’t operate the way it has without the volunteers. We are thankful to be in a community with people that are willing to help one another. It’s been a tough year for everyone, and everyone is capable of making a difference.”
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Megan Bernard is a co-founder and the managing editor who directs day-to-day journalism of The Record. Megan enjoys writing about restaurants, entertainment and education and is an established human-interest reporter.