NEW YORK — For weeks, Janice Szymanski-Dizuzio struggled to get her 74-year-old mother an appointment to get vaccinated.
She said there was no shortage of obstacles while she navigated through multiple websites.
“It’s very overwhelming and every site is different. They ask different things and they have them in different orders,” Szymanski-Dizuzio told PIX11. Not to mention, some sites open reservations after midnight.
Eventually Szymanski stumbled upon the New Jersey COVID Vaccine Info Group on Facebook, where a community of 74,000 and growing offer tips, share resources and some even volunteer to book appointments on behalf of complete strangers.
It’s how Szymanski’s mother booked her appointment which means their family is a step closer to reuniting.
“They may just think they’re making an appointment but really, I cannot wait to see my parents again,” she said. “It’s the ability for my mom to meet her grandson, because she hasn’t been able to.”
Seeing that there was a real need to make these connections happen with seniors and those able to help, Amy Heller, founder of WGIRLS — a national organization of professional women who help the underprivileged — used her resources to launch a more formal system where 400+ volunteers are on deck ready to serve.
“By last night, we were over 2,300 appointments and so that’s in 10 days,” Heller said. “I would assume we will break 3,000 within the next 24 hours.”
Heller’s network has been so successful, she revealed to PIX11 News that it will expand to New York in the coming days.
Julie Kurzrok is one of those volunteers. She’s managed to help as many as 10 seniors In just one day lock in appointments.
“I think the underlining drive is just how broken this whole system is,” Kurzrok said. “I mean how is a 100 year old going to Go on the Internet and book an appointment.”
A virtual community proving the notion that not all heroes wear capes.