Most people don’t think of the pandemic as the “good” old days but, for at least two Oak Park residents, that’s not entirely true.

I had the pleasant chance to reminisce with another village of Oak Park volunteer about the hey-day of our volunteer service with the Health Department as we rolled out (and continue to provide to this day) COVID-19 vaccinations. She served, and still does, in the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) and I served, and still do, in the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Because of our skills and training, we both had different roles during each of the many vaccination sessions that began early in 2021.

As the numbers and ages of eligible residents increased, we adapted and left the blustery and slow serial venue of the Public Works facility. Some brilliant soul moved us to the gym at OPRF High School where we could set up 6-8 concurrent lines of intake and vaccination. When kids age 5 and older became eligible, we moved into elementary school auditoriums and entertained the 50+ rambunctious kids (and, sometimes, their parents) with Lion King. And then, when the eligible vaccinations dropped into the toddler range, as humanely and efficiently as possible, we vaccinated dozens per hour at Cheney Mansion.

Sophia Ramilo prepares to get her dose during a mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic in the gymnasium at Oak Park and River Forest High School in Oak Park in 2021. | Alex Rogals/Staff Photographer

My MRC colleague and I fondly recall those good old days. We knew we were doing something good for our community. We also knew that we were part of a skilled and dedicated team of both Oak Park staff and many volunteers bringing this service to our neighbors. In that sense, we miss those days and those people.

The bad old days of the pandemic are (largely) gone, but our desire to serve and be part of a caring team has not. We miss you all!

If you have a background in health care, you may be, or may become, eligible to serve in the Medical Reserve Corps. With training and certification, almost anyone can serve in the Community Emergency Response Team. Team members always welcome. Contact

Ron Elling
Oak Park

[Note: image is from Wednesday Journal “Schools stay open, mostly, as districts adapt on the fly” Jan. 11, 2022, updated Aug. 31, 2022]

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