LOUISVILLE, Ky. — For Ann Bowling, volunteering at LouVax, Metro government's mass vaccination site at Broadbent Arena, is a family affair.
As Bowling, a nurse, administered COVID-19 vaccines Friday morning, her son was a few yards away directing cars through the six lanes of traffic in the arena that’s typically used for livestock shows during the Kentucky State Fair. Bowling’s husband was volunteering the day before. And they’re all doing it so they can reconnect with another family member.
“I’m doing this so I can see my mom in a nursing home,” Bowling said.
The Bowlings are among the more than 2,000 people who have volunteered at Broadbent Arena since the site opened in early January. Nearly three times as many have registered with the Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness in hopes of picking up shifts.
“This is compassion and joy in full operation,” said Connie Mendel, deputy director of the Department of Health and Wellness.
Volunteers have devoted a total 34,039 hours to the effort. More than half of those volunteer hours have come from the 470 people who have given at least 40 hours, earning them the right to a vaccination of their own.
Bowling is still working to hit the 40 hours mark, but Regina Puno is already there. A retired anesthesiologist, Puno helped check-in patients Friday and ensured they had the proper documentation to leave the site after their vaccination.
“I found out volunteering brings me lots of endorphins,” Puno said. She began volunteering at the site on December 31, when they were still doing “wet runs.” She surpassed 40 hours of service, received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, and continues to show up.
“It brings me a new sense of purpose in my old age,” the 66-year-old said.
Across the arena, sitting alone, Pat James rubbed a glass vial of Moderna’s COVID-19 between his hands. A pharmacist, James has already been vaccinated. Apart from a slightly sore injection site, he had no bad reactions.
He’s volunteering now because he’s “got the time,” he said. “I just thought I’d help.”
After warming the vial between his hands, James began filling syringes, which would be transported over stations like the one Bowling was running and injected into the arms of people like Leslyn Rushing, a Jefferson County Public Schools art teacher.
Rushing came through Bowling’s station at around 10:30 a.m. Friday. After answering a few screening questions and specifying the arm she wanted injected, she received a shot in her right upper arm.
Though most of her face was covered by a rainbow mask, Rushing’s smile was obvious. “Didn’t even feel it going in,” Rushing said. “She did awesome.”
Those interested in volunteering at Broadbent Arena can sign up at the Louisville Department of Public Health and Wellness website.