Women of Action Serve Their Appalachian Communities
During the past month, Appalachian Women of Action (AWA) members from Giles County, Virginia helped to administer both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to more than 1,000 county residents. The successful drive-through clinics were held in the Giles County High School parking lot where AWA volunteers were among those who directed traffic and watched over inoculated seniors to make sure no reactions occurred.
Although the outside workers endured frigid temperatures, AWA volunteer Denise Hale Blakeney was especially pleased with how well the Clinic was organized. “I have a friend from North Carolina whose Dad is 86 and he had to stand in line from 8:30-5:30 to get his first injection. My husband was able to drive in and out of the Giles clinic in 30 minutes.”
Members of the southwest Virginia group have been educating their neighbors about Covid-19 and the recommended safety precautions since the pandemic first hit the region in March 2020. Early in the year, Appalachian Women of Action leaders from Giles, Floyd, Patrick, Pulaski, and Montgomery Counties organized a “Women Wear Masks” campaign highlighting scores of local women actively protecting themselves and others from the deadly virus. The group also posted weekly statistics on the organization’s Facebook page and celebrated area restaurants who were adhering to COVID guidelines, such as the Lucky Star Restaurant in Pearisburg and Dogtown Roadhouse in Floyd.
AWA’s efforts are now focused on making sure people who need the vaccine are getting the information they need, and that those without transportation or internet service are not left out of the loop. Besides community service related to Covid-19, AWA members also work to ensure all Appalachian voices are heard and votes counted, and to challenge white supremacy culture in Appalachian communities.
As of February 18th, Virginia ranks 13th among all states for percent of the population receiving at least one dose of the vaccine, and 6th among all states for percent of available doses administered. Thanks to New River Valley Health District, Giles County Administration, Carilion Giles Community Hospital and local organizations and volunteers like Denise, Giles County is a part of the state’s success story.
To get vaccinated in Virginia, visit https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/ or call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA. For the New River Valley, call (540) 267-8240.