SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – A San Francisco woman has led charges of having more than 1,500 of her neighbors vaccinated against COVID-19.
Hundreds of seniors already come to the IT Bookman Community Center in San Francisco’s Lakeview neighborhood for hot meals, food gifts, and activities from quilting to the computer lab. So why not also have a COVID test and vaccination center?
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Felisia Thibodeaux worked with the city to make this possible.
She is the executive director of Southwest Community Corporation, which serves more than 300 elderly people including Josiane Stokes.
“You shouldn’t have to travel outside of your community to get access to everything you need, so we are very grateful,” said Stokes.
Thibodeaux and her staff called all of their senior customers and had more than 75 percent of them vaccinated earlier this year.
But in the spring, she said, she met more people of all ages who were afraid of getting the injection.
So she and her team went block by block, person to person, countering what she calls misinformation with truth and personal stories.
“What it means is if you are unvaccinated and you get COVID, if you take it to your grandmother, mother, father, wife and children, then you might very well be spreading it,” Thibodeaux said.
And she hosted round tables with a doctor on hand. Like one for African American men.
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“I’m really proud, after that I know for sure that 7 of the 9 participants in the focus group were vaccinated in the end,” she says.
And word spread.
“When it took a person to say, ‘All right, Ms. Felisia, I’ll get the vaccine,’ said another young man who went to the center, ‘Do you have the vaccine? I’ll get mine, and so quickly we had a whole change. “
She even shares her own health challenges. Her kidney was removed. She wears a hat to cover her bald head.
“I took off my hat and said, ‘I have lupus.’ Let people see that despite all the ailments I live with, I’m still here, ”she said.
Thibodeaux’s next project is to drive to neighbors to give the vaccine when they hang a specific poster on their doorknob.
She has an extensive background in serving her community. She was the Chief Operating Officer of Bayview Senior Services. She has found jobs in the Tenderloin for former homeless people who have completed an apprenticeship. She also helped 500 families move into new apartments after the implosion of the Geneva Towers housing project about two decades ago.
Senior Katie Hamilton says Thibodeaux just cares.
“She is compassionate and concerned for the individual,” said Hamilton.
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To help vaccinate more than 1,500 of their neighbors against COVID-19, the Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Felisia Thibodeaux this week.