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Principal Earns White House Holiday for COVID Activism

By La Prensa Staff

TOLEDO, July 6, 2021: A Northwest Ohio Latino family celebrated Independence Day on the south lawn of the White House in the nation’s capital taking part in a giant cookout and watching the fireworks, selected by the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) as a reward for helping to ensure thousands of local Latinos receive the COVID vaccine.

Photo courtesy of www.floc.com

Outgoing Escuela SMART Academy principal Jessica Molina, her son, and parents made the trip after the final vaccine clinic Friday at the bilingual TPS magnet school. Jessica is an associate

member of FLOC and her parents, former migrant farm workers, participated in marches and rallies as FLOC members in the 1970’s. Gregorio and Margarita Molina still reside in Pemberville, where Jessica and her two siblings grew up. Jessica now lives in Perrysburg.

FLOC began offering Friday evening COVID-19 shot clinics at its offices last winter, mainly for the Latino community. The clinics quickly outgrew FLOC’s capacity there, so Jessica offered Escuela SMART Academy as a larger grassroots clinic location and a trusted, familiar site to many of the community’s families.

The after-hours and weekend clinics proved very successful, partly because those allowed third shift workers to attend. FLOC and the school teamed with Dr, Richard Paat and the Community Cares Clinic, which was able to obtain plenty of vaccine for the effort. The clinics were staffed by bilingual doctors and volunteers in order to better serve the underrepresented minority community. There was even a 42-hour vaccine marathon, where Jessica’s parents received vaccines. The clinics vaccinated over 6,000 community members, boasting the highest return rate in Ohio (89%) for the second dose.

“They got their vaccines at a time when the lines were really long and it was hard to get an appointment,” noted Jessica. “There happened to be a time when we had a couple of extra doses in their category, so we were able to help get them in last-minute.”

Jessica Molina, along with her son and her parents, are participating in a presidential “America’s Back Together” 4th of July event in Washington D.C. More than 1,000 essential workers and military families were invited by President Biden to a barbecue on the White House lawn Sunday evening. Such events across the country are meant to celebrate the Biden administration’s progress combating the pandemic, though the country fell short of the president’s July 4 vaccination goal.

“America’s back together thanks to the Biden administration’s whole-of-government pandemic response, the countless essential workers and first responders, and the resiliency of the American people,” the White House said in a statement, which added that administration officials “will be blanketing the country to celebrate Independence Day and our independence from this virus.”

“I think the collaboration of all of us coming together was super unique,” said Jessica. “It showed during the pandemic, in order to fight it, you had to come together as a community to make it happen. I think the White House took notice of it, perhaps because Senator (Sherrod)  Brown was here a couple of weeks ago and did a press conference and FLOC allowed me to speak on their behalf at the press conference. I was able to share the story there. It really is unique that both put their side missions on pause to really focus and battle the pandemic.”

The trip serves as an early birthday president for Ms. Molina’s son Austin Kuhlman, who turns six next week, entering first grade in the Perrysburg school system. This will be the first White House trip for all four of them, even though Jessica and her parents were part of a FLOC protest outside the grounds decades ago.

“We’re very proud of her,” said Margarita. “It’s very exciting. We’ve never been there. We’d like to see the president, but don’t know if he’ll be there. It’s just nice to be there with Jessica and my grandson. We’re excited.”



Copyright © 1989 to 2021 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 07/06/21 20:34:09 -0700.





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