A Message from Chris Wilcox, Former Pro Basketball Player
President Biden is doing what needs to be done to get the entire country on the same page so we can cope with and get beyond COVID-19. Last week, he launched a plan to vaccinate as many people as possible by providing free or reduced rides to vaccination sites using Uber and Lyft. His focus and solutions are designed for our entire country.
I am excited to be working with United Way of the Greater Triangle on a similar plan for the state of North Carolina. It’s holistic, well designed, and aligns perfectly with our community and my passion. The United Way’s initiative is called Ride United NC. This program provides round-trip Lyft rides to vaccination sites for low-income community members—and solid, trustworthy information.
Though similar to the President’s initiative, our plan with United Way is intentionally laser-focused on North Carolina’s low-income communities and those receiving federal assistance.
With Ride United NC, if you are over the age of 55, do not have a bank account, and/or are a member of households considered low-income by the federal definition – you qualify for a free or reduced ride and I encourage you to call. We’ll take you to a vaccination site near you at a time that is most convenient for you and we’ll stay there and wait until you’ve received your shot. Then, we’ll get you safely back home or to work. That’s United Way’s commitment: to be there with you every step of the way.
I get it. There’s a lot (a lot) of history associated with vaccines in underserved communities and some deep water under that bridge, especially for people of color. This history created a mistrust of our medical system…and that mistrust is completely valid. I grew up hearing about the Tuskegee experiments on black military personnel. But, it is 2021 now and our medical systems have changed. Yes, what happened in the past should be remembered, but it should not cripple our future path and evolution.
United Way of the Greater Triangle understands the needs of the communities being served by Ride United NC and the people who live there. The organization acknowledges the fears, and has the right tools and resources to address questions and concerns to clear up any confusion associated with getting vaccinated: How am I going to get to a vaccination site when I have to work every day? And how will I get back? I’m a single parent who can’t afford to miss work and can’t leave my kids alone, so how is this going to work for me? All that matters is that I can pay the rent this month. What if the vaccine makes me sick and I can’t take care of my family? These are real questions stemming from our communities, and United Way of the Greater Triangle is focused on getting them answered and helping people feel at ease.
For the record, the very first thing I did when I heard about the COVID vaccine is I talked to my family doctor. I talked to my spiritual leaders, I asked a lot of questions, and I got the answers I needed. My wife and I, my family, my cousins, and even my boys from along the way have gotten vaccinated. I took action, making sure I shared this information with everybody I know and love.
My prayer is that you get the vaccine, get yourself healthy, get yourself strong, and get yourself back out there. So, join the health literacy sessions, where health experts can answer your medical questions. Once you have the answers you need, get your vaccination scheduled, and call 1-844-771-RIDE. You can also learn more about the health literacy sessions at https://www.unitedwaytriangle.org/rideunitednc/