Migrant Worker Group Helps Vaccinate an Ohio Community

María Schuermann Kuhlman | Public News Service
Jessica Molena de Perrysburg dice que la defensa de sus propios padres por los trabajadores agrícolas migrantes ha servido de inspiración. Photo Credit: FLOC

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Jessica Molina of Perrysburg says she was inspired as a child by the spirit of activism, as she watched her parents participate in rallies and protests advocating for the rights of farm workers. Now, as the principal of the only bilingual elementary school in Toledo, Escuela Smart Academy, Molina volunteers with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee on youth programs.

Most recently, Molina has helped FLOC with COVID-19 vaccination efforts, even opening the doors of the school to provide more space for their clinic.

“It was important for them to make sure that their members had front-row seats to getting the vaccine – which really, they did, because FLOC’s clinic was up and running just like the major hospitals,” she said. “So, I think it was crucial to for them to show their members they have their back.”

For their contributions to helping migrant farm workers, Molina and her parents recently attended a White House celebration of front-line health-care workers and volunteers.

FLOC’s work resulted in more than 6,000 people being vaccinated at the south Toledo clinic, with an 89% return rate for the second dose. Molina noted that the clinics were open to anyone in need of the vaccine.

“The clinic was available on the weekends, in the evenings,” she said. “We even had a ‘vaccine-a-thon,’ where we were offering vaccines for 42 hours straight, from sunup until sundown. So, it was a really productive clinic.”

Molina said she believes FLOC has set an example of what it means to serve the community in times of crisis.

“They maximized their relationships and their partnerships with other organizations to refocus their work on battling the pandemic,” she said. “Fighting COVID isn’t a part of their mission statement, but helping the community is.”

With such a large percentage of the community now vaccinated, Molina said the school is no longer needed as a clinic site. However, she noted that FLOC continues to connect workers at various migrant farms to health-care services.