Cary Rositas-Sheftel


July 7, 2021

¡Vámonos! When COVID-19 began taking its toll, my colleagues and I started using this Spanish expression, which means “let’s go,” as a rallying call to get out into the neighborhoods to help those who needed it most. We used it with the connotation of “let’s get this done” and “we can do this” because there indeed was a lot to be done. 

Historic inequalities were exacerbated by COVID-19, devastating communities of color. Because of a large percentage of workers in low-paid and essential jobs that could not be done from home; a higher population density; fewer economic opportunities; and inadequate access to protective equipment and health care resources, Black and brown communities experienced higher rates of infection, more loss of life and greater job losses. 

With the help of donors, volunteers, parishes and community partners, Catholic Charities worked with these communities throughout the crisis, providing unprecedented amounts of food, rental and burial assistance, mental health counseling, PPE and culturally sensitive education about the virus and how to stop its spread. The way so many people and organizations swiftly came together to get help in the hands of their neighbors was nothing short of amazing. 

When the vaccine became available, we knew that Catholic Charities could play a vital role in ensuring that it reached underserved communities. Again, Catholic Charities and our partners throughout the archdiocese sprang into action, quickly and safely turning our community-based service sites into socially distant vaccination sites, following all CDC protocols. Vámonos!

To date, Catholic Charities has participated in 77 vaccination clinics and more than 9,800 vaccine doses have been given. The clinics have been held on Saturdays and after work hours so as many people as possible can participate. 

Volunteers from each local community and parish help staff the clinics and provide translation services for their neighbors. Local hospitals and medical groups provide the vaccines. Catholic Charities, parishes, and other community agencies organize and oversee the events. 

From greeting guests and taking temperatures at the door to putting shots in arms, the way everyone has worked together to get the hope of the vaccine to those hardest hit by the pandemic has been, again, nothing short of amazing. 

As many of us get “back to normal” post-vaccine, we must remember that rebounding won’t be easy for all.

The tremendous educational ground lost by children in communities of color, coupled with the reduction in family income and social mobility from job losses, the continued lack of economic opportunities and quality health care, and the fact that some families lost their primary breadwinners to the virus means that there is still much work to be done. 

Just as we have since the start of the pandemic, we can do this work together. ¡Vámonos!


  • catholic charities
  • covid-19