WESTFIELD, NJ — Taylor Addis, a junior at Westfield High School, has found a way to leverage her generation’s ease with technology to help get senior citizens vaccinated.
Working with her aunt, Michelle Cisneros of Mountainside, Addis has created Gen2Gen Helpers, a group of volunteers that secures online COVID-19 vaccine appointments for senior citizens who may not be as comfortable with technology.
In just a few days since the organization was launched, the 15 teen and adult volunteers, including five Westfield High School students along with Addis, signed up more than 20 Union County seniors for vaccine appointments.
“I’ve been volunteering with the Westfield Rescue Squad for the last eight months, and my parents both work in healthcare,” said Addis, who is planning for a career in medicine. “Along with my aunt, we’ve seen the problems that seniors were having, and we all thought we could do something.”
Senior citizens can enter their information into a Google form created by Addis. She said that she chose Google forms for the ease of completion, and because it can easily be texted or emailed to someone.
The data is transferred into a spreadsheet, and each senior is matched with a volunteer in their town. The volunteer has access to updated information about vaccine appointment availability, and so far, they’ve had complete success in finding appointments for seniors who have requested their help.
“It can be a tedious, annoying process,” said Addis of finding available vaccine appointments. “We see updates through Facebook and Twitter, and we know when to be online to continuously refresh the websites. Seniors aren’t necessarily as comfortable with this process.”
For now, Gen2Gen Helpers is focused solely on helping Union County residents 65 and up who might have trouble with online appointments, even though younger people with preexisting conditions (who would presumably be more comfortable with technology) are also eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.
The group is also working with Mountainside Senior Services to provide information about vaccine signup assistance, and Gen2Gen Helpers' future plans include coordinating transportation to vaccine appointments for those who need it.
Gen2Gen Helpers is seeking volunteers to help schedule appointments. If you’re interested, email Taylor Addis at email@example.com. If you’re over 65 and need help scheduling your COVID-19 vaccine, you can complete the Google form with your information to get the process started.
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