Vaccine Equity Project member Ayan Husein uses community’s trust to make an impact

Written by CRC Staff, 5/19/2022

Ayan Husein working at one of OneMorgan County’s vaccine clinics in the summer of 2021.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 created an enormous public health challenge. Communities had to quickly look for solutions to slow the spread of the virus.

“The best part of a community is when we take the time to listen to one another and come together to support each other,” said Ayan Husein, a member of the Vaccine Equity Project. 

“That’s what is happening when we address vaccine hesitancy and decide vaccination is the key to keeping our community safe,” she said. 

Husein is one of nine members that served in the Vaccine Equity Project, a statewide project created by CRC to address community needs for additional staff to support vaccine distribution. This cohort of volunteers provided critical capacity to nonprofits through mobile equity clinics, vaccine outreach events, distribution of educational materials and canvassing.

Husein served at OneMorgan County, a nonprofit in Morgan County. She provided interpretation services in Somali, delivered food boxes and COVID-19 information flyers, participated in OneMorgan County’s vaccine clinics and talked about the vaccine with hesitant community members. 

OneMorgan County said that Husein played an integral role expanding their vaccine services.

“We were able to expand our reach into the Somali-speaking community and Gen Z students thanks to the deep relationships Ayan had built.”

Using her connections in the community, Husein also managed to convince some hesitant families to get their vaccines. 

“In normal circumstances they would never have come,” she said. “I was proud of the outcome of our hard work.” 

Husein also contributed to the success of OneMorgan County’s vaccine clinics that vaccinated more than 150 people . 

She felt like they held the trust of the community.

“I really love it when people I talked to about the COVID-19 vaccine spread the information to their families and friends. [They also] referred people to us when they had questions they couldn’t answer.” 

Vaccine Equity Project volunteers served across the state at Sunrise Community Health, United Way of Pueblo County, OneMorgan County, Move Mountains, Marillac Health and Companeros: Four Corners Immigrant Resource Center. 

Husein and the rest of the Vaccine Equity Project members stepped up to the plate to provide direct in-person services to strengthen their communities and build the capacity of their host site organizations. 

Each placement site reported volunteers expanding the capacity of their projects. In total, the Vaccine Equity project served 19,514 Coloradans over 10 weeks. 

Vaccine Equity Project members: Ayan Husein, Karee Porth, Zane Goodell, Emma Greenberg, Halle Medina, Julia Cordova, Rebecca Romero, Samantha Dunn and Sarah Sayles