WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A program that has helped thousands of Palm Beach County residents during the pandemic could soon come to an end. A group of frontline workers says their job is far from over.
“It’s kind of like the glue that’s keeping us all together,” said Robin Bundy, a community health worker.
Bundy is out in the community 5 days a week.
“Bagging masks, hand sanitizers, of course, our education, gloves. Going out trying to find the areas you think would be most impacted,” said Bundy.
She’s one of 30 community health workers in Palm Beach County. For the last 6 months, she’s focused on helping to connect residents to resources to help them during the pandemic.
“The fact that their neighbors were trusted people, and they were giving them that vital information to keep them safe was important,” said Jaimie-Lee Bradshaw, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer at Community Partners of South Florida.
The director of Palm Beach County Community Services, James Green said the model has worked. However, on Dec. 30 the CARES funding ends, leaving the program in limbo.
“When it comes to rent, utility, and food assistance, we are seeing equitable distribution of the dollars and these referral communication strategies are indeed effective,” Green said.
On average, each community worker receives around 3,000 a month for supplies and their work. Green believes they could be a critical role in combatting COVID.
“What’s at stake is if individuals don’t trust the vaccine then they won’t get it. If people choose not to get vaccinated, we’ll see a continuation of the spread of COVID-19,” he added.
“We know we are making a difference; we know we are helping people. Now, who is going to help them,” added
Community partners and the county are hoping to raise money to keep at least some of the workers employed.
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