It was just a little more than a year ago when I informed my staff they would be working remotely for a few weeks.

As we begin a new spring season, our agency is still working remotely — wearing masks on home visits, socially distancing and, thankfully, coming to the end of a very, very long road. While all those things are a little inconvenient and uncomfortable, they have kept us all safe and helped us keep the COVID-19 virus in check.

The vaccine clinic hosted by Lackawanna County and facilitated by our amazing partner, Allyson Favuzza and her incredible team at Hometown Health Care of NEPA, was the largest example of what collaboration and partnership could do for a community.

Throughout the entire pandemic, good people from every walk of life have come together to volunteer, contribute and give their all to help vulnerable people most impacted by the virus.

Students from Penn State Scranton, Lackawanna College and Wilkes University were there alongside their instructors. Retired educators, nurses and many others gave their time to do everything needed to be done without a complaint. For our part, our teammates from EMS, 911, Building and Grounds, Communication and the Area Agency on Aging were there to make sure the operation went smoothly, and people were provided the best experience possible.

This was one clinic of many which have helped us push beyond the goal of having our older adults scheduled for the vaccine by April 1. Working together, we have accomplished a great deal in a short period of time.

As we reflect on what has been accomplished, we move forward knowing 35 senior apartment complexes have had clinics or have a clinic scheduled thanks to DiPetro’s Pharmacy, Scranton Primary, The Wright Center and Hometown Health.

Delta Medix has been hosting clinics specifically tailored to vulnerable community members and has helped the Area Agency on Aging schedule in-home vaccinations for the homebound.

The Prescription Center held our only drive through clinic. The Family Pharmacy Group has held weekly clinics supported almost entirely by volunteers and are steadily making critical progress in the effort to vaccinate the 1A population. MediCap Pharmacy has done the same and has traveled to locations helping ensure the critical employees in the 1A group are vaccinated.

A final example is the clinic happening next week at the Bhutanese Cultural Center thanks to Commonwealth Health, UNC, AAA and the incredible nursing students at the University of Scranton.

Old Forge Pharmacy cannot go unrecognized as they helped connect their 1A customers and neighbors to clinics even when they were not selected to be a vaccine provider. The team at Old Forge believed in what we were all doing and never stopped working for the goal. The Lackawanna Medical Society provided countless volunteers to many of these events and all the selfless contributions of all these volunteers were essential to everything we have done.

NeighborWorks, United Neighborhood Centers, the Area Agency on Aging and the United Way made over 10,000 phone calls in two weeks. We cleared our 211 waiting list, cleared our partner provider waiting lists, and reached out in every way we could to connect our older adult community to a clinic. The staff at Family Service Association of NEPA worked tirelessly to compile our list and are now connecting people without internet access to clinic appointments in real time. We have come very far, very fast, and we did this together.

For many of us, this is the first holiday we can feel safe gathering with our loved ones. We should NOT stop being vigilant, but we can be breathe a little easier. We can also be a little extra thankful to our friends and neighbors who have given so much to help so many.

Jason Kavulich is the director of Lackawanna County’s Area Agency on Aging. For more information on services available call 570-963-6740.

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