NORTHEAST HARBOR, ME – The Mission Covid-19 vaccination clinic team heads out on March 19th morning aboard the mailboat, Sea Queen, for clinics on Great Cranberry island and Islesford.
The Maine CDC gave permission for the Mission Covid vaccination medical team to administer vaccines to island residents 18-years old and up on Great Cranberry and Islesford. The CDC’s decision was a huge nod to efficiency and common sense. Registering island residents, and then transporting the medical team with vaccines to them, is tricky under the best circumstances. So once the team is in place — on an island community center, or a ladies club — why not vaccinate as many people as possible?
Mother Nature decided to rough up an otherwise smooth plan for these clinics by delivering winds heavy enough to make traveling aboard the 74-foot Sunbeam out of the question. If you think of a tractor trailer rolling across a flatland meeting a strong crosswind, you get a sense of how wind can prevent the Sunbeam from easing into a dock, or staying tied to a dock.
So this trip, on March 19, the medical team traveled aboard the much more wind-friendly mail boat that travels between Northeast Harbor and Great Cranberry Island. The team consisted of Sharon Daley (Lead Nurse), Maureen Giffin (Nurse), Douglas Cornman (ImmPact Recorder), John Zavodny (Registrar), Kathy Cheney (Monitor), and Katelyn Damon.
The team was joined by Maine Public Radio’s Patty Wight, who reported on the trip on March 26, 2021.
Forty-four islanders received Covid-19 vaccinations this day. As teacher Lauren Gray told MPB’s Patty Wight, ““It just feels like there’s a light. Even in our small community, we haven’t been gathering indoors. Out here on the island that makes such a big difference in getting through the winter, is being able to go to people’s houses and share a meal on this rock that’s three miles out.”
CHERRYFIELD, ME — The Mission Covid-19 vaccination trips aboard the Sunbeam have a unique hum of excitement. It is my honor to witness it from my little spot in the galley while trying to offer a little nourishment to the hardworking vaccination crew.
A little white cooler with a bright red lid transports among locations the cherished vials of Moderna vaccine. Everything is centered around this cooler. Handled with deference one would give bone china or an organ meant for transplant, the cooler is whisked through the Sunbeam salon, to-and-from Sharon’s boat office. There vaccine vials are stored in a special medical fridge with its sensors and record keeping.
While we are underway, the vaccination crew is often huddled, socially distant, double and triple checking numbers: vaccinations available, people signed up, ages, dates and appointment times. Because of time constraints with vaccine transportation, our travel time between islands is also a factor.
The vaccination crew make a lot of phone calls to coordinate it all. They make even more phone calls when the weather or vaccine availability sets up a speed bump.
I’ve seen Mission president, John Zavodny, preparing stacks of vaccination cards given to people once they’ve had their shots.
After an island clinic, Douglas Cornman returns to the Sunbeam with a stack of vaccination forms with information he needs to enter into the national database.
Nurses Sharon Daley and Maureen Giffin wear many separate pairs of blue gloves. They schlep their totes of medical supplies island to island for the pop-up clinics. Their totes are inventoried and replenished often. One tote is clear and holds – among other things – a big round clock that is an indispensable tool for the fifteen-minute wait everyone has after their inoculation.
People are grateful to be vaccinated. They laugh, cry, and dance. They love the “I’ve been vaccinated” stickers. One gentleman who had his first shot was wearing a t-shirt that said simply “vaccinated”. He was all smiles!
When we interviewed Tanner for our College Exploration and Engagement Program in the spring of his freshman year, he told us about his buoys. How he chose the bright green and white because the colors were clear and bold in the water. How the horizontal designs with these colors had already been claimed, so he shifted to a distinctive vertical stripe. How this design took him a long time and demanded precision as he taped and painted each of several stripes again and again on dozens of buoys. And how ultimately, it was all worth it, because he had worked hard, and was proud that to each buoy he had brought his best.
Tanner died in a car accident with two friends in early February. He was a junior at Sumner Memorial High School in Sullivan. In the days following, connecting with students in our program, and teachers and staff who knew Tanner well, I didn’t hear much about the Honor Roll scholar he was, or the skilled dedication he brought to baseball and fishing, though all of this was true.
I didn’t say much about how Tanner hoped to study structural engineering or landscape architecture while continuing to fish, or that he would have been an outstanding applicant for the full college scholarship we are launching this spring, though this was true also.
What I heard most — and felt — amid intertwined grief and gratitude was that Tanner was so kind. That he would have done anything for anyone — and did. That he looked out for his friends when they struggled, and he loved his parents and extended family with unshakable loyalty. That he was the first to ask if you needed a hand, and the last to ever complain or cut a corner or make excuses. Even when worried, he persisted.
On a recent rainy day, after a scholarship workshop the previous night that Tanner and his parents would have joined, I visited their home. I wanted Tanner’s parents, Mike and Tracy, to have several photographs from our program including one I framed of Tanner and a friend looking out across Frenchman Bay. I wanted them to have an art piece from that same summer retreat — a silhouetted portrait Tanner had filled with words that mattered to him.
We also shared some quiet and some stories. I told Mike and Tracy how much I had learned about Tanner from what he said two years back about his buoys. They listened. Then Mike disappeared for a minute. He returned with one of the buoys — the green and white just as Tanner had described. We talked a bit more and as I got ready to leave, Tanner’s parents gave the buoy to me.
What an extraordinary kindness. What an extraordinary gift. And what a reminder. We load our boats and head out with hope toward dawn. How can we know if our prep the days before will be enough? Tanner’s prep was focus and tape and patience. As was unquestionably true across his seventeen years, may we too step back at the end of each day to see clearly and boldly that we have given our best.
–– Christina S. Griffith, Director, Davis Maine Scholarship
NORTHEAST HARBOR, ME — In November 2017, Maine Seacoast Mission launched Journey, a six-year youth mentoring program. Journey was, and is, made possible by the Emanuel & Pauline A. Lerner Foundation and its mentoring-based initiative, Aspirations Incubator. That initiative is designed to raise and sustain aspirations of rural Maine middle and high school students.
This week, Aspirations Incubator launched its new website www.aspirationsincubator.org and social media pages. The new web presence will offer the public a glimpse into how Aspirations Incubator is working at the Mission and in other places.
Briana “Bri” West, is the Mission’s Journey Coordinator. Bri said, “The Journey program gives students support and relationships that help them navigate their challenges. Students get to experience college and career choices, near and far from home, with friends and mentors. Journey has given students support in-and-out of the classroom, while helping build resilience. In our small community, Journey has given students the motivation to be better, and to strive for what they dream,” said Bri.
“Through deep mentoring and outdoor based programs, Washington County youth are able to explore their strengths and build positive relationships with peers,” added Mission Downeast Director Melvin D. Adams III, Ed.D.
“This work increases college and career aspirations for youth to live and thrive in their communities. We are grateful for the coaching, mentoring, and financial support provided by the Lerner Foundation,” Mel Adams said.
We look forward to contributing to the success of the Aspiration Incubator’s new web presence.
NORTHEAST HARBOR, ME — The Mission medical team held back-to-back clinics on Monhegan island (March 3) and Matinicus island (March 4). Sunbeam Captain Mike Johnson, Engineer Storey King, and Steward Jillian, were resting from their second Covid-19 vaccinations, so the medical team traveled to these two islands by means other than aboard the Mission’s boat, Sunbeam.
Monhegan Boat Lines’s Laura B carried the team to-and-from Monhegan. The team was Island Services Director Sharon Daley, RN; Maureen Giffin, RN; Peggy Akers, NP; Island Outreach Director Douglas Cornman, and Mission President John Zavodny.
Forty three people received vaccinations at the Monhegan Community Church and Parsonage. The crew of the Laura B was good enough to hold the boat to allow time for the medical team to finish its work and travel back to the pier aboard a Kubota 4×4.
The following day, the Mission’s old friend, Penobscot Island Air, carried the same team by air to-and-from the Matinicus Island International Air-Strip. The airport is named somewhat tongue-in-cheek. It is a strip of land cut through a grove of pine trees.
The team was also joined again by Boston Globe photographer Erin Clark, and Boston Globe reporter Brian MacQuarrie. Erin’s wonderful photos accompanied Brian’s fine story in the March 9Boston Globe.
Thirty one people received vaccinations at Matinicus Island School.
President Zavodny produced a video vignette with narration capturing the flavor and highlights of the Monhegan clinic.