By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– It’s been quite a month for El Sol Neighborhood Educational Center.
Representatives of the San Bernardino-based nonprofit were among a select group of first responders and healthcare workers honored at a July 4 White House event for their contributions in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The South Lawn celebration featured remarks from President Joe Biden.
El Sol also received a video message from Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where he lauded the organization for its leadership in expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines among underserved communities in the Inland Empire. In addition to these accolades, the organization was selected as a 2021 California Nonprofit of the Year for its work with vulnerable communities throughout the pandemic.
“El Sol’s innovative outreach efforts have helped save countless lives and slowed the spread of the deadly coronavirus in some of our hardest-hit communities in the Inland Empire,” said State Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gómez Reyes.
Responding quickly to the pandemic, El Sol sent community health workers and promotoras (specially trained Spanish-speaking health workers) to address vaccine hesitancy, overcome access barriers and otherwise help meet the needs of underserved communities. Over the past several months the organization has:
- Delivered nearly 6,000 COVID-19 vaccinations by leading dozens of pop-up vaccination events and clinics throughout the Inland Empire.
- Provided 40 hours of COVID-19 training modules for community health workers and promotoras on community safety, mental health, risk communication, contact tracing, disease prevention, COVID-19 basics and community primary care.
- Produced and distributed nearly 7,000 COVID-19 care kits, which included masks, hand sanitizer, vaccination card holders.
- Developed “Time to Heal” virtual tool kits which include mental health check-in plans and self-care planning tools sheets to help community members heal from the trauma of the pandemic.
- Produced original music videos in both English and Spanish that used lyrics and imagery showing community members receiving vaccinations in a supportive environment to address vaccine hesitancy.
- Produced youth-friendly content including comic strips, activity books and posters to help parents and community health workers talk about the importance of vaccines with youth.
- Activated a call center to provide information and answer the community’s questions about vaccines.
- Managed a communications campaign in both English and Spanish to dispel vaccine myths and encourage COVID-19 harm reduction actions.
- Collected and shared “Stories of Impact” about the community health workers and promotoras who are key in fighting COVID-19.
A hallmark of El Sol’s distinct approach to community outreach is integrating pop culture to reach its audiences. El Sol produced original music videos in both English and Spanish that used lyrics and imagery showing community members receiving vaccinations in a supportive environment.
“El Sol has been playing an invaluable role in our community for three decades,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman. “The group’s community health workers often share the language and culture of the people they serve, and as a result are perceived as a helpful, credible resource. El Sol’s contributions during these difficult times have been particularly impactful.”
“El Sol has long been committed to empowering people in our community to become messengers of health, and connecting our residents to critical resources and care,” said Alexander Fajardo, executive director. “I am so grateful that the tireless efforts of our team and promotoras have been honored. It further inspires us to ensure everyone we serve can get vaccinated against COVID-19.”