Staten Island Vaccine Fairy
A few weeks ago, I received a call from Jody Stoll. She asked if people in my parish were having problems securing appointments to get their Covid vaccinations and if that was the case, said she wanted to help. She went on the explain that she was helping people from the Episcopal churches on Staten Island get vaccinated at a local hospital through one of her contacts from working in the public health field.
“Just send me their name, birthdate, and telephone number and we will get them signed up,” she told me. She called me again later and told me about another contact at a much bigger site in a local high school. As Jody explained it, her original motivation had been to help the people in her church, St. Mary’s, Castleton. Signing people up there and getting them vaccinated worked out to be easier than she expected, so she decided to help more people. She called Christ Church, New Brighton, and now she was calling me to help the people of Church of Ascension.
On top of all that, she asked me for the names and numbers of my colleagues from the other Episcopal churches on Staten Island. What she said she really wanted, though, was to help any senior who was having trouble finding appointments online or struggling to use technology to make those appointments, especially people of color or other marginalized groups. With that in mind, she recently started working with the pastor from First Lady of Fellowship Baptist Church, also on Staten Island.
“I like to think of myself as someone who is just trying to make our community a better place in any way the Lord sends,” she said. Jody got vaccinated herself, but she had struggled for weeks to find and make an appointment online. She assumed that if she, who is computer-savvy, was struggling to make an appointment, other people must be, too. This frustration, along with her desire to help others, motivated her to spring into action, starting with the people she knew in her church. From there, it grew into her helping many others.
Although she retired a few years ago, Jody still knows people who work in the administrations of several local health organizations. One way she was able to sign up parishioners from our various churches was through an overflow list at a local hospital which was at risk of wasting vaccinations due to cancelled appointments—we have had a lot of snow this winter which made getting to appointments more difficult, especially for the senior population.
One day, I gave her cellphone number to at least ten people. She called me the next day and said she had spent the whole previous day signing people up, and if some of the people from my church did not get a call back, to please try again. By now, she was doing so much she could barely keep up; she even went to sleep with her laptop computer on her nightstand. What had started out as a desire to help people had turned into a ministry she could hardly maintain.
I called my people and asked them to call her again, and Jody came through! I do not know how many people she has helped get appointments for at this point, nor does she: maybe hundreds. I am grateful for her good work and so are the people she helped to make appointments. Jody’s work has led the people in the community to give her a moniker—the “Vaccine Fairy.”
Jody balks at receiving thanks and praise. “Honestly, it was always a little embarrassing when people thanked me, because I do what I do for the love of God and wanting to be a good community neighbor.” Anyone who knows her believes this to be true. Jody exudes a positive and loving attitude and wants to help her neighbors, because she feels blessed by God.
“I am a blessed person. Every morning, I thank the Lord. I have a wonderful support system of family, friends, neighbors, and a faith community that keep me going,” she said. “My joy comes from being of service.”