Featured photo: Sandra S. Jones, CEO of the R.L. Jones Community Outreach Center
Written by Tanya Terry
The stated objective of the R.L. Jones Community Outreach Center team is to get everybody in Flint and Genesee County vaccinated, according to Sandra S. Jones, CEO of the center.
The plan is to accomplish this in part through delivery of food to those with access and functional needs.
“We deliver to better than 900+ households a week,” Jones stated, who is also known as “Mother Jones.”
There are educational materials in the boxes with phone numbers Flint and Genesee County residents can call if they have questions about vaccinations.
The R.L. Jones Community Outreach Center team tells those who call they have a vaccination clinic. They may offer to call Rides to Wellness to help the caller get to the clinic.
With funds recently received from the Community Foundation of Greater Flint by way of a National Network to Innovate for Covid & Adult Vaccine Equity (NNICE) grant, Jones is hoping the team can provide the informational material at least every two weeks to each household they serve.
“We also have 300+ cars that come through here every week,” Jones explained. “So every single week we hit every single car, and most of those vehicles have two families in them because they’re coming to pick up water and food.
Some of the individuals that pick up the food and water do not have transportation.
“We serve those who are underserved.”
When individuals get their first vaccination at the center, they can receive a stainless steel, double door refrigerator with a freezer at the top.
“They are real nice to have in your bedroom because sometimes you have seniors who can’t get up in the middle of the night but need to have a refrigerator in their bedrooms.”
Those who get boosters at the center typically get Sharper Image body massager.
Because the new funding makes it possible to have new personnel, those who receive food boxes will receive a follow up call to make sure they saw the flyer and to allow their questions to be answered. The funding will also make it possible for those who work at the center to receive training for talking to members of the public.
Jones said not even one single person within the workforce of R.L. Jones Community Center has tested positive for COVID due to safeguards being consistently taken.
“I’ve seen the devastation, and I’ve insisted: If you’re going to work here, you’re going to be vaccinated. We come in contact with the public directly and one on one every day we work.”
The R.L. Jones Community Outreach Center is housed on the premises of Greater Holy Temple Church.
“We’ve been very fortunate (because) we haven’t lost any (church) members to COVID.”
The members who did contract COVID were mostly in their 80s and had preexisting conditions.
“A couple of them that got it got it from children. Remember, children were not vaccinated.”
Jones is 74 years old, and her husband, Bishop Roger L. Jones, Sr., is 84.
“Bishop (Jones) established here in 1963. He was very insistent with his people to be safe. They love him. They trust him. They believe in him. When he talked to them about the pandemic, they listened. The membership trusts Bishop, and Bishop talked about the vaccine. He also had other people come in and talk about the vaccine.”
Jones told the Courier about how her niece from Texas came to spend Christmas with her, and before she could land in Detroit Jones’ sister called her to tell her niece had just tested positive for COVID.
“Thank God my niece was 16 and had just made the threshold for vaccinations!”
Although her niece stayed in Jones’ home for three weeks, Jones never contracted the virus. Nor did anyone else Jones’ household.
“I’m a living witness because I had had my booster-and by her having had all her shots, all she had was just a fever and a cough!”
Jones said hers and her husband’s generations are living longer. She attributes this to the fact vaccines were required for school when they were younger.
Jones said she does consider herself a role model.
“I do, and I try to be. Why should I talk to you about vaccine and how to stay healthy and be healthy if I don’t do that?…I don’t believe in asking people to do anything you haven’t done yourself. That’s what I believe about the vaccination.”
COVID and flu vaccine clinics are held at the R.L. Jones Community Outreach Center from 9:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. on Thursdays. For details, call (810) 233-0727.