BCF honors COVID vaccine BI leaders

Bainbridge Community Foundation is used to partnering with people and organizations to make their efforts go further than if they did it alone.

But it has never seen a partnership work as well as the one that led to so many people getting COVID-19 vaccinations.

As a result, a number of groups were honored Nov 4 with the BCF Humanitarian Award at its Philantropy Celebration. The groups are Bainbridge Community Pharmacy, Bainbridge Prepares, the city, BI Fire Department, Rotary Club of BI, BI Senior/Community Center and Island Volunteer Caregivers.

“I never want anyone to forget how lucky we are to be in this community with partnerships like this. We would not have vaccinated to this degree without all of these key players,” said Anne LeSage, Emergency Management coordinator at the city of Bainbridge Island during a meeting with BCF.

From Dec. 23, 2020 to June 5 this year over 25,000 doses of the COVID vaccine were administered. The effort was much more than just Tan and Bast. Over 600 volunteers dedicated more than 25,000 hours, including home visits and a mobile clinic that provided vaccinations to more-vulnerable populations in Kitsap and Jefferson counties.

As a result, more than 82% of BI residents ages 12 and older have initiated their COVID vaccine, which is the highest rate in Kitsap County.

The effort didn’t happen overnight. When Mark Tan of Bainbridge Community Pharmacy received an email that he would be sent 300 doses of the COVID vaccine just days before Christmas, he knew the pharmacy wasn’t big enough to be a stand-alone clinic. He and Loren Bast, executive director of Bainbridge Prepares, teamed up to find a venue for the clinic, along with trained volunteers who could administer the shots.

The vaccination clinics grew from there. Over the course of days, weeks and months a network of local nonprofits, agencies and companies united forces to create one of the most-efficient and impactful volunteer vaccination efforts in the region.

BCF created a short film about the effort, available at www.BainbridgeCF.org.

“My entire career has been focused on collaboration, and this was by far the best example of collaboration and coalition-building I have ever seen,” LeSage said.