FRANKLIN, NJ – A group of local women have affectionately become known as 'Franklin Angels' for their dedication and efforts in helping members of the community secure COVID-19 appointments.
Over the past several months, Franklin resident Carla Visser, along with Barbara Fisher, Susan Goen, and former Councilwoman Rozalyn Sherman, have been dedicating their time and computer skills to register and secure vaccines for more than 300 members of the Somerset Run community.
"Several hundred residents have been vaccinated as a result of our efforts," said Visser, telling TAPinto that the effort first began after she herself was contacted to get the vaccine. "I had already been vaccinated and asked if I could instead refer a few people and they said yes."
That same day, Visser helped secure vaccines for five of her neighbors and, the effort grew from there. She began compiling a spreadsheet to send to a local hospital and posted a survey on the Somerset Run message board to find out how many of the 55 and older community's 775 residents were still seeking a vaccine.
Inundated with responses, Visser, with assistance from Fisher, Goen, and Sherman, got to work, providing neighbors with information on where and how to register. Additionally, for those who didn’t have computers or internet connections, the women took the initiative.
"Residents contacted us and, if they knew how to use the computer, we gave them the sites and coached them on how to do it. For those who didn’t have a computer or internet or didn’t know how to use it, we provided the support," said Visser, adding that, overall, the goal was to ensure that 'people knew where and how to register.'
The 'Franklin Angels,' however, don’t just help their neighbors make an appointment and move on. They follow up with every person on their list and continue to disseminate important and timely information about COVID-19, the vaccine, pop-up vaccination sites, and more on the Somerset Run message board.
Additionally, in recent weeks, the women have also been working closely with the township, including Mayor Phillip Kramer and Ward 2 Councilwoman Shepa Uddin, along with the Somerset County Board of Health, to ensure that their homebound and/or bedridden neighbors can also get the vaccine.
Uddin, at an April 13 virtual council meeting personally thanked the 'Franklin Angels' for their 'outstanding humanitarian service' to the community and presented Fisher, Goen, Sherman, and Visser each with an official town proclamation.
The commendation reads, in part, '[T]he American tradition of neighbor helping neighbor has always been one of our greatest strengths and most noble traditions; and the definition of kindness is the act of being caring or warm in spirit… [The] Franklin Angels have demonstrated both by helping over 300 seniors in Ward 2 [get] their COVID vaccinations [including providing] them access to a computer, setting them up with Somerset County, and following up to ensure they received their vaccinations.'
"Kudos to them; they have gone and done outreach on their own, spread the word and done the legwork to get members of the community vaccinated. They have been on standby ready to help," Uddin told TAPinto, adding, "This is a perfect example of neighbors helping neighbors. Looking out for each other only makes our community better, and I completely pat them on the back. This speaks volumes and shows our community we are ready to help one another any way we can."
"We are part of a large 55 and older community; these are the people who are in need and many have underlying conditions. This was a volunteer effort dedicated on our part to help those in our community," said Visser, adding, "None of us did this to be recognized. Or for power and glory. We just did it to help people. We did it to make sure that they were protected and safe."
Uddin acknowledged that there are most likely 'other angels out there' working to help their neighbors. "We just don’t know who they are yet," she said. "We hope others will step forward and let us know."
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