Spotlight Story

23 April 2021

Saving Lives: HLN Member Organizes Vaccination Clinic for Colorado’s Latino Community

Category: Spotlight Story

Linda Sosa knew the heartache her community was experiencing from the lives lost to COVID-19. And that pain motivated her to do something about it. 

The pandemic has disproportionately affected the health and livelihoods of Latinos and other communities of color. Although there’s a COVID-19 vaccine readily available, Latinos face several barriers preventing them from getting vaccinated – language, technology, transportation and mistrust of the vaccine. Sosa, a Hispanic Leadership Network graduate and long-time parishioner at St. Cajetan Catholic Church in Denver, is overcoming these obstacles and has helped over 5,000 Latinos get their vaccine.

“I first wanted to get involved because I had seen how our families suffered for relatives who were lost during the pandemic,” said Sosa. “I helped them as they went through the heartache. I felt that supporting by helping our community get vaccinated was the solution to combat the contagion.”

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, only 8 percent of Latinos have received the vaccine, although they make up over 21 percent of the population. Meanwhile, whites and non-Latinos make up 67 percent of the population, but data shows 73 percent are vaccinated. 

Sosa and Father Angel Perez-Lopez have organized two COVID-19 drive-thru clinics at St. Cajetan Parish with vaccines provided by Safeway. During the first clinic, nearly 2,000 people received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

To organize the clinic, Sosa served as the communication contact between the parish and Serena Gonzales, their district’s state representative. Throughout the process, Sosa worked with the support and approval of Father Perez-Lopez. Sosa hopes to continue working with the state to hold more vaccination clinics in the future, but for now, the second clinic was held for those who received their first dose. 

“The first clinic benefited those in our community who were 70 years of age and above,” said Sosa. “Their children and relatives were trusting and brought them to us to become vaccinated because they were very concerned about the health of their loved ones and they were afraid of losing them.”

Sosa attributes everything she’s learned about serving and leadership to the training and support from being a member of the Hispanic Leadership Network. HLN directly supports pastoral leaders who seek leadership development opportunities as they deal with the pressures of balancing their family, congregation, and community. Fellows receive education, training, mentoring, and coaching support to assist them with their leadership growth.

“Joining the Hispanic Leadership Network is a great opportunity because you learn how to be a  faith and community leader,” said Sosa. “We are given the tools to undertake the journey to help our fellow man by serving with humility, respect, and charity without losing God in our journey.”

Sosa’s initiative and leadership in her community is not only breaking down barriers, but it is literally saving lives. 

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