EATON — On Tuesday, July 27, volunteers of the Preble County Medical Reserve Corps who aided in COVID-19 response efforts across the county were recognized with a banquet honoring their service.
“You guys did incredible amounts of work in the last year and a half,” Preble County Health Commissioner Erik Balster told those in attendance.
“There’s really not a whole lot of words to sum up last year,” Balster said. “Frustration was probably the biggest coming from a lot of us.
“But I think at the end of it all, I think as a community we began coming together to do something great,” he continued. “I think that’s probably the best thing to come out of a pretty crummy situation.”
Balster said this shows Preble County is resilient thanks to some really great people.
According to Suzy Cottingim, Preble County Public Health’s Emergency Response Coordinator, the health department has requested volunteers since March 2020 to support not only its needs, but the needs of other agencies across county.
Those needs included everything from assisting with mailers when the department became overwhelmed, providing temperature screenings at the courthouse at the request of Preble County Commissioners, and assisting at food banks and food distributions across the county, to making well-check calls on senior citizens for the Preble County Council on Aging and helping with home delivered meals when the need increased due to the pandemic.
“MRC volunteers as well as community volunteers and Preble County’s Community Emergency Response Team with the Help of Preble County EMA assisted our office with our pop-up testing site,” Cottingim said. “And we utilized volunteers to assist us with COVID testing during an outbreak at a nursing home.
“In March of last year, we launched MRC Mission Masks campaign which collected and donated over 2,800 homemade fabric masks,” she continued. The program donated masks to the Preble County Council on Aging for their clients and staff, area businesses and individuals and schools when the school year began.
“On Dec. 29 of last year, volunteers began assisting with our vaccine clinics,” Cottingim said. “Without the support from all of you, we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what we did,” she told those in attendance.”
She said 91 MRC volunteers have donated over 2,600 hours since March of last year. This doesn’t include hours from CERT, Preble County Board of Developmental Disabilities or hours donated by community members.
“When requesting volunteers, as Maria (Morgan) would often say, ‘you have to have fast fingers to get a spot.’ I tell you, that’s a great problem to have,” Cottingim said. “We are so fortunate to have the support from all of you and we couldn’t be more thankful.
“There were a few times when we lacked the number of volunteers we needed, and that’s when our friends from the Preble County Board of DD and Preble County CERT would fill in,” she continued. “Dr. Mark [Vosler] and Brian Smith came to help. When we asked, they came through for us, so thank you!”
“I can’t begin to tell you the number of compliments we received on our volunteers,” she added.
Along with the many individual volunteers honored, special recognition was also given to the Preble County Board of DD which provided volunteers for vaccine clinics when Preble County Public Health was short, and donated a wheel chair to the PCPH office; and to the Preble County District Library, which promoted staff volunteering, made “ear savers” for masks which were given to nursing homes and the Preble County Emergency Department and became an outlet for COVID-19 test kits.
Also recognized were the Preble County EMA/CERT Team and Mary Bullen for the use of Eagle’s Point Gymnasium for mass vaccination clinics.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr