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UCI Gives Thanks This Holiday Season

Posted on 11/30/21 in The Nonprofit Behind the Neighborhood

When the COVID-19 vaccine became widely available to the public in March 2021, UCI took an active role in helping neighborhood residents register for both first and second dose appointments and facilitating transportation to-and-from vaccination sites. This holiday season, UCI wants to thank its community partners for coming together and resolving to help its immediate neighbors with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Early this year, UCI was awarded a part of the Cleveland Foundation’s Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, where a total of $15.7 million was provided to more than 300 local non-profits, with the goals of educating the public about the vaccine and encouraging vaccinations. Since receiving this funding, UCI began to host pop-up clinics that vaccinated over 200 individuals. UCI worked with local business owners like Tina Rice from T Rice Communications, who helped promote each pop-up clinic and coordinated activities the day of the events, Geoffrey Ledwidge of McDonald’s, and Greg and Sonya Beckham with Beckham’s B&M Bar B Que. All were key partners and hosts in these pop-up clinics.

UCI hired three individuals to help support the outreach and encourage registrations: Lexi Ritt, Mace Adams, and Dannette Davis, and the group began to participate in the Hub-Spoke initiative. University Circle took on the responsibility to serve as the “Hub” for vaccination efforts and began to engage other community-based organizations including MidTown Cleveland, Greater Colllinwood Development Corp., The Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Towards Employment, and Lexington Bell Community Services Center. They participated in weekly Zoom calls with other organizations and agencies to discuss progress and challenges and to identify best strategies for moving towards a higher vaccination rate. Other pop-up locations included UCI’s YAY! Saturdays, Welcome Back Wednesdays, and the pop-up clinics in East Cleveland in collaboration with NOAH.

“Many of the residents living in neighborhoods adjacent to University Circle do not have the same level of health and wellness outcomes as individuals residing in areas with greater resources. The health disparities between communities of color and majority white communities are significant. When the opportunity arose for UCI to help address this issue, we said yes without hesitation,” said Laura Kleinman, Vice President of Services. “UCI and its member institutions want strong neighborhoods, and we want everyone to feel welcome. Devoting resources to keep residents and their families healthy is just one way we can do this.”

UCI would like to thank the organizations who came together to help the Cleveland community fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you to NEON, City of Cleveland Dept of Public Health, and the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, for staffing the clinics and providing the vaccines. Special thanks to United Healthcare staff who helped to distribute gift cards, as well as all those previously mentioned in this article.

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