However, after the schools shut down at the start of the pandemic, all the Garden Angels were kept home too. When the opportunity arose, Dan happily switched his time to helping out at the BCHD COVID-19 testing site and vaccine clinics, including being a crossing guard at the AdventurePlex immunization site. “It’s so important for everyone to get vaccinated, to improve mental health and get back to normal”, said Dan.
If you’ve had your vaccine at the AdventurePlex site, you may not only have met Dan, but you may also have been supported by other members of the Smith family: his wife Anne, daughter Emma and his two sisters Mary and Kathleen, who have all put in many hours of volunteering to help the community.
Both Dan’s wife Anne and daughter Emma both work full-time, but still found time to volunteer at the AdventurePlex site every week helping people across the busy road, offering directions and advice; in fact, anything to make people’s visit easier and happier. Anne said, “the best part for me, has been seeing how excited the teachers and students are when they come for their vaccine appointment, knowing that they will soon be safe in the classroom and back to a normal life.”
Emma added with a smile that her volunteering days “were the most social activity I’d experienced during COVID,” adding that “everyone has been so kind and grateful, demonstrating a sense of human hopefulness.”
Dan’s sisters Mary and Kathleen have also been a major part of the Smith family’s support. During her 44 years as a registered nurse, Mary served for 32 years as the director of nursing/homeless health care at the Venice Family Clinic. She is also fluenct in Spanish, which makes her an even more helpful volunteer vaccinator at the AdventurePlex site.
Sister Kathleen, who is also a retired Public Health Nurse and keeps fit by cycling every day, heard about BCHD’s need for people with a nursing license through one of her cycling groups. Since then, she’s volunteered for four half day vaccination sessions each month. Kathleen said, “As a public health person, I didn’t want to sit this one out. The pandemic has made history; something we’ll all remember for several generations. Nobody asks me now, ‘what’s Public Health’?”
It’s Kathleen who leaves us with her clear and poignant memory and thought for the future. “At a recent vaccination clinic for teenagers, I was recalling when, at the age of seven, I was in a long line for a sugar cube dose of the Polio vaccine at Westchester High School. As I was vaccinating today’s teenagers, I was wondering if they’ll remember this day as vividly as I remember that day back in 1959!”