Just two days after President Joe Biden signed legislation declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday, hundreds turned out Saturday to celebrate the history of emancipation, freedom and equity in cities like Salisbury, North Carolina.
Gatherings last year were canceled due to COVID. This year organizers across the state focused on recovering from the pandemic, education and vaccine equity.
“This year is special, celebrating Juneteenth Independence Day this year is all about Healthcare Equity in addition to racial justice,” according to Chi-Chi Ray-Leazer, president of the Psi Chi Chapter of Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc. nursing sorority organized in 1979 in Salisbury.
North Carolina Health and Human Services personnel said, “Longstanding racial and ethnic injustices contribute to disparities in vaccination rates among historically marginalized populations. We are building equity into every aspect of vaccine distribution in order to close the vaccination gap between White populations and Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx and American Indian populations in North Carolina.”
Leazer explained the sorority recognizes the need for education and access to vaccinations. The sorority’s motto, “Service for Humanity,” unfolded out of a continuous need for skilled and caring nurses in the community both locally and nationally. The sorority is internationally recognized for the promotion of healthy communities through advocacy, collaboration, education, leadership development research and service.
The team of nurses partnered with Giver of Destiny Corporation and Man Up Monday, Inc. to host a Vaccine Equity Project with Psi Chi Chapter of Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc. at the Salisbury Juneteenth Celebration. The nursing sorority provided blood pressure checks and shared education with the historically marginalized community and Black Indigenous People of Color in Rowan County about COVID-19, testing awareness and availability.
Funded by the Healthier Together Grant provided by the NC Counts Coalition Giver of Destiny Corporation, the goal is to work with directly-impacted census tracts where families not readily getting vaccinated are being educated and subsequently talking with persons directly about the vaccine types and places to go to get the shot. Look forward to door hangers, even people talking directly to you in your community as this campaign effort will extend through August of 2021.
Partnering with Healthier Together – NC Counts Coalition Community Based Organizations (CBO) – Giver of Destiny Corporation and Man Up Monday, Inc. on June 19th at the Salisbury – Juneteenth Celebration targeting Historically Marginalized Communities and Black Indigenous Persons of Color (BIPOC) by using census tract information to locate communities that have high social vulnerability scores.
Kerr said this was an important partnership for Rowan County. “In a world that could not careless, we are G.O.D. Giver of Destiny Corporation an organization that couldn’t care more,” she said.
“We partner to provide “everything but the vaccine” location, volunteers, supplies and more. Most importantly we support the vaccine efforts by ensuring that people are scheduled for every available vaccine dosage and confirming doses in advance where possible. Additionally, we work with the Local Health Departments to ensure that vaccines are available at local community events.” The group will continue programs across the state.
“It’s all about making the communities strong,” Leazer said. “The members of the sorority believe that staying connected with the community is extremely important especially to those who don’t have access to healthcare and an effort to remain better integrated with the community, reaching out to community resident leaders, local charities and event coordinators discovering ways to give back. Their purpose is to reach people who need assistance that include health resources and maintaining the best healthcare possible.”