DALLAS, Texas- At the Fair Park Community Vaccination Center in Dallas, volunteer workers from across the nation assist the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and multiple Department of Defense organizations as they all work together to support national COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
The Fair Park CVC opened in January 2021, and welcomed volunteers who were interested in helping the local community; volunteers like James Crabtree.
Crabtree, 69, is a volunteer with the Texas Baptist Ministry, an all-volunteer disaster relief organization that answered the call to help Dallas and surrounding underserved communities.
“We help facilitate getting meals to FEMA, service members and volunteers at the site,” said Crabtree. “Being retired, I was blessed enough to have time to give back and help others.”
The retired business owner, who has lost five family members to COVID-19, said that he feels blessed to have the opportunity to play a firsthand role in helping Americans receive COVID-19 vaccinations.
“Last February my brother-in-law was one of the first ones to die from COVID-19,” he said. “It means a lot be here, to help people and see them get shots because losing that many family members at one time is something I haven’t gotten over.”
Crabtree, a former U.S. Air Force Honor Guardsman, has been a volunteer with TBM since 2017 and said that he enjoys working with FEMA and different U.S. military branches.
“I’m glad I’m here because I get to see all of the young military folk,” he said. “Being prior service, I have a blast with them. It brightens their day I think; I know it brightens mine.”
Crabtree is just one of the many volunteers that assist at the Fair Park CVC; John Sandberg is another.
John Sandberg, a New Haven, Connecticut, native and college student, is a volunteer with the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps.
AmeriCorps NCCC is a team-based national and community service program that offers a 10-month volunteer program, which allows citizens like Sandberg to travel the country and volunteer at various locations, and allowed him to assist at the Dallas CVC.
“Being able to help citizens get the vaccine, which is kind of the first step back to normalcy, has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Sandberg. “Seeing the people drive up that are so grateful to receive that vaccine shot makes volunteering here super easy and fun.”
With a passion for volunteering and helping others, Sandberg said that assisting at the Fair Park CVC alongside military personnel was a new experience for him.
“I volunteered at a food bank in Stockton, California, and worked with U.S. Army National Guard Soldiers every day,” said Sandberg. “It was a great experience because just as the Soldiers in California, the ones here are super hard workers and respectful of the volunteers.”
Outside of volunteering with AmeriCorps, Sandberg also volunteers at his local food bank back home, does phonebank calls with senior citizens, and donates marrow to help those in need. In March 2021, Sandberg donated his stem cells to a 72-year-old man with blood cancer.
“I think volunteers are really important with projects like this because they do the forgotten jobs,” said Sandberg. “Volunteers are crucial with doing the behind-the-scenes work and it gives me a lot of hope that the world is a better place than what we see when I see other volunteers help out different communities.”