UMBC students and staff have shown their resilience in myriad ways during the pandemic, but maybe nothing showcases the Retriever spirit more than the volunteer hours put in to assist in the region-wide vaccination challenge. 

Vaccine hunters Jen Dress, associate director of Campus Life, and Candace Martinez-Doane, assistant director of Leadership and Government, started their journeys by finding appointments for people within their immediate circles. As more people became eligible for vaccines, those circles widened to include more than 600 people they’ve helped register.

Part of their efforts focused on frontline UMBC community members, including over 30 ABM staff, who help maintain and clean UMBC facilities and residential buildings. Dress and Martinez-Doane partnered with UMBC Transit to organize UMBC coach buses to transport the ABM workers to and from their vaccine appointments. Next up on their list is helping 60 Chartwells dining staff members be successfully vaccinated to prepare for fall 2021 operations on campus.

UMBC students are also going above and beyond to volunteer their time. Of students in the University System of Maryland, Retrievers led the way attending 30 volunteer shifts at the M&T Bank Stadium mass vaccination site, giving approximately 175 hours of their time. According to Chris Bankert of the State of Maryland’s COVID-19 response team, “UMBC has been doing fantastic work at M&T Bank Stadium, and I have been hearing great feedback from the management staff on site.”

In mid-April, UMBC leveraged its long term partnership with the Lakeland community in south Baltimore to co-sponsor a pop-up vaccine event to serve 100 members of the community. “With deep community connections and strong partners like Casa de Maryland, we were ready to bring health resources to the community,” says Joshua Michael ’10, political science, director of the Baltimore School Partnerships and the Sherman Scholars Program,.

In other ways, Michael notes, Retrievers have adapted to meet the opportunity of the moment.  In summer 2020, 15 Sherman Scholars taught math online to 150 Lakeland students. And this fall, 30 UMBC students will provide additional support in mathematics through evening tutoring. “At UMBC,” says Michael, “our humanity has guided us to meet this moment.”

— Morgan Casey ’22 and Randianne Leyshon ’09

A version of this story was originally published by The Retriever.

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