Most of the people working at the vaccine clinic at the Uniontown Mall volunteer their time.
They do it out of their love for the community, and the hope that they can make a difference during the pandemic.
Tiffany Guittap of Uniontown, a banker at Scottdale Bank & Trust, said she has been there since the launch of the clinic. Primarily, she helps people with the registration process. Throughout the day, she assists vaccine recipients through each of the clinic stations.
Guittap, also a board member of the Fayette Chamber of Commerce, has volunteered weekly, likely putting in more than 200 hours so far. If she is not at her office, she said, she is at the clinic.
“When the pandemic hit, it ravaged our business community, our restaurants, the hospitality industry, our retail, our small business owners, our coffee shops, so we were all devastated as a community to see our friends and our families and our community members suffering,” she said. “When we had the opportunity to launch this amazing initiative in Fayette County, it was something that I desperately wanted and needed to be a part of to be able to help all of our friends and families and community members to get back on our feet.”
Guittap said she has already seen the benefits of what they are doing. Having been vaccinated early on due to a heart condition, she found that her clients in the banking community appreciate she’s vaccinated to keep them safe.
“The day-to-day operations at these large clinics would not be possible without the support of our many volunteers - both from the hospital and from the community, many of whom continue to support our vaccination efforts week-in and week-out,” said Josh Krysak, director of community relations at WVU Medicine Uniontown Hospital.
The hospital’s clinic at the mall is the largest through the county’s vaccination task force.
Hospital President and CEO Dr. David Hess helped administer some vaccines there last week. He said seeing volunteers’ commitment first-hand provided an even greater perspective of all they do.
“These volunteers: the vaccinators and vaccine mixers, the registration teams and the non-clinical groups guiding patients and wiping down tables and chairs - all of these dedicated individuals are doing an incredible job of taking this fight to the virus and helping get us closer to normal,” he said.
Muriel Nuttall, co-chair of the task force and executive director of the county’s chamber, said the number of volunteers at each clinic depends on the size of the clinic. For the Uniontown clinic, she said they have around 20 volunteers each day they administer vaccines.
“We could not do this at all without the help of the volunteers,” Nuttall said. “This effort from the beginning has been support from the entire community that’s made it happen, and the volunteers are a crucial part of that.”
Uniontown resident Madonna Nicklow has volunteered at the mall clinic for the past couple months. She said she helped by taking people’s temperatures as they entered the clinic and sanitizing items, such as wheelchairs.
Nicklow was director of veteran affairs in Fayette County until 2019, when she retired. She said she was looking for some way to continue helping the people in the county.
“When this all came about with the task force and then they started needing volunteers, I said what better way for me to help with a good cause than to volunteer to help these folks out,” she said. “It’s rewarding to love on people.”
Nicklow said it’s been a joy to help community members protect themselves from the virus.
“It means a lot to me,” she said. “I think it’s very important that we get vaccinated to slow this pandemic down and to keep us all healthy.”
Third Presbyterian Church in Uniontown has been assisting as well, with volunteers from the church coming to the clinic each week to help people check in and go through the stations. Two of those volunteers are Marilyn Fitzsimmons and Cathy Vrabel.
“If I can prevent one more person from getting COVID-19, that’s my mission. It makes me feel good to be here and help people,” Fitzsimmons said.
Vrabel said they have volunteered at the clinic through the church about 10 times so far.
“The people are really appreciative of us being here,” Vrabel said. “They thank us for being here to help them, and it’s a good feeling.”
Guittap said she lost clients to the virus last year from ages 30 to 85, and she’s helped their families through the grieving process. She is glad she and other volunteers like her are able to help prevent losses from the virus in the future by getting people vaccinated.
“We have cried with complete strangers, and we have held complete strangers’ hands while they’ve gotten their vaccines,” she said. “The simplest acts of kindness go a long way.”
Anyone who would like to volunteer at the clinic can contact the office of the Fayette Chamber of Commerce at 724-437-4571.