Nine community leaders recognized for their tireless efforts over the past year to vaccinate thousands of people. Monica Paz Representing San Francisco Community Health Center.
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed and the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) today recognized nine individuals representing a diverse group of community-based organizations that have been instrumental in achieving San Francisco’s high COVID-19 vaccination rate. Through a focus on equity and low-barrier access, these individuals served communities most impacted by the pandemic.
Before COVID-19 vaccines became available, San Francisco developed a robust system of care and support in communities hardest hit by the pandemic. The individuals honored today helped meet basic needs in their communities during the pandemic and built on those efforts to drive the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine. Through these strategies, the City has reached an 80% full vaccination rate among eligible San Franciscans ages 5 and older through outreach to communities of color, people of various faiths, seniors, individuals with language and technology barriers, and those experiencing housing and food insecurity.
As San Francisco begins operations to offer vaccines to children ages 5 to 11 and boosters to all adults over age 18, it celebrates the community-based approach embodied by the following individuals:
- Augie Angel from Bayview Hunters Point Advocates (Bayview)
- Father Moises Agudo, Vicar for the Spanish Speaking and Mission Parishes (Mission)
- Anni Chung from Self Help for the Elderly (AAPI in Chinatown, Sunset, Richmond)
- Ernest Jones from IT Bookman Community Center (Lakeshore)
- Berta Hernandez from Instituto Familiar de la Raza and currently SFDPH (Excelsior)
- Felisia Thibodeaux from IT Bookman Community Center (Lakeshore)
- Isabella Ventura from Lyon Martin Health Services (Mission)
- Monica Paz from San Francisco Community Health Center (Tenderloin)
- Gwendolyn Westbrook from Mother Brown’s (Bayview)
“These nine individuals represent the outstanding and dedicated work in our many, diverse communities across San Francisco to save lives and bring us out of this pandemic,” said Mayor Breed. “They are truly the ‘Vaccine S/Heroes’ of this pandemic, and their stories can inspire the rest of us to reach out with a helping hand whenever we seem someone in need. We’re here today to recognize their work and make sure they are appreciated – we couldn’t have gotten this far in the pandemic without them.”
COVID-19 vaccines are offered at nearly 100 locations through the City’s network of community access sites, neighborhood health centers, health systems, and pharmacies. This network of sites is now addressing new challenges in the evolving pandemic to ensure San Franciscans have access to COVID-19 booster doses to strengthen their immune systems against the virus, flu vaccines, and the last major expansion of vaccines to younger children ages 5 to 11.
“It takes a collective and concerted work to vaccinate San Francisco, and these individuals, alongside many, many others worked tirelessly and with tremendous dedication to make sure we could reach into the highest impacted communities to provide support and life-saving vaccinations,” said Director of Health, Dr. Grant Colfax. “We know this has been a challenge and required many, many conversations with people to help them feel comfortable with taking the vaccine and by providing easy access to it. We also know that the pandemic hit people in many ways — from food insecurity to digital access and mental health challenges – and these individuals and the organizations they represent helped meet this moment by responding to these whole-person needs.”
More information about the individuals honored is here:
Augie Angel – Bayview Hunters Point Advocates (Bayview)
- Extensive outreach efforts with SFDPH and other community organizations to reach people experiencing homelessness in the Bayview with services.
- Collaboration with El Centro to ensure that the Latinx community and families most impacted by COVID receive linguistically and culturally appropriate services.
Father Moises Agudo – Vicar for the Spanish Speaking and Mission Parishes
- Engaged the faith-based community in the Mission through organizing vaccine clinics at churches on the weekends and directly addressing concerns and questions about the vaccines from the community.
- Supported social media campaigns and educational videos for the Latinx community and advised and supported safe practices and adherence to Health Orders during various religious holidays.
- Conducted online masses during Shelter in Place, so people were supported and felt a sense of connection to their faith.
Anni Chung – Self-Help for the Elderly (Chinatown, Sunset, Richmond / AAPI community)
- Provided services to accompany seniors to medical and personal appointments, including vaccination.
- Partnered with the AAMG medical group to provide homebound vaccination to more than 100 San Francisco seniors.
- Initiated vaccine outreach effort in the Sunset District by providing information and incentives to motivate residents to get vaccinated in partnership with Walgreens.
Ernest Jones – I.T. Bookman Community Center (Lakeview/OMI)
- Kickstarted COVID response efforts in Lakeview/Ocean View-Merced Heights-Ingleside (OMI), his home neighborhood.
- Former board member of Southwest Community Corporation and worked for the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center before joining San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safai’s office as a legislative aide.
Berta Hernandez – Instituto Familiar de la Raza (IFR) and SFDPH (Excelsior)
- Coordinated IFR’s COVID response to clients and families, especially Latino immigrant families, by helping to provide food, diapers, and other essential items to comply with shelter in place order.
- Supported access to technology, such as phones, computers and internet services, and supported parents and their school-aged children through the many challenges of remote learning.
- At SFDPH, she co-leads flu clinics in the Mission, Excelsior, OMI, Visitation Valley, and Bayview Hunters Point neighborhoods, and strategy for providing COVID-19 vaccines at these locations.
Felisia Thibodeaux – I.T. Bookman Community Center (Lakeview/Oceanview/Merced/Ingelside)
- Executive director of the Southwest Community Corporation that operates out of the I.T. Bookman Community Center serving the OMI communities.
- Acting as a “vaccine ambassador” to the OMI communities, she’s convinced more than 1,000 people to get vaccinated via direct referral.
Isabella Ventura – Lyon Martin Health Services (LMHS)
- An adult-gerontology nurse practitioner with extensive experience working on HIV programming and research, capacity building, community mobilization, and health promotion.
- Originally from Manila, Philippines, she is a longtime resident and community advocate for sexual and gender minorities, addressing health and social inequities, particularly among trans and gender nonbinary people of color, and supporting their receiving of culturally-responsive care and services.
- Founding planning member of the annual SF Trans March, SFTEAM, and Center of Excellence for Trans Health at UCSF.
Monica Paz – San Francisco Community Health Center (SFCHC)
- As a medical case manager at SFCHC, during the COVID pandemic, she has worked on a street outreach medical team to provide a range of medical and behavioral health care to people experiencing homelessness.
- Coordinated COVID testing and vaccination events at GLIDE Memorial Church for the Tenderloin neighborhood that have served thousands of people.
- Her background as a bilingual trans-woman of color, an immigrant from El Salvador, and two decades experience dealing with drug use, homelessness, sex work and false arrests has compelled her to extend her lived experience to help our most vulnerable populations.
- DPH-certified HIV/HEPC tester and counselor and a substance use counselor.
Gwendolyn Westbrook – Mother Brown’s (Bayview Hunters Point)
- Provided resources to the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhoods, including: shelter for people experiencing homelessness; hot meals for people experiencing food insecurity; food delivery to the homebound and elderly; and care boxes with food and personal hygiene supplies at vaccination sites to incentivize vaccination and support needs of families during the pandemic.