Thumbs up from Alfreda Mobley as a RWJ Hamilton nurse administers her COVID-19 vaccine.
Thumbs up from Alfreda Mobley as a RWJ Hamilton nurse administers her COVID-19 vaccine.

The line of people waiting to receive their first COVID vaccine April 23 in downtown Trenton was a testimony to the relationship between the community and Catholic Charities Diocese of Trenton.

“We’re about family. I know the hesitancy of the people, but we’re trusted,” said Marlene Laó-Collins, CCDOT executive director.

Sixty people showed up to the first vaccine clinic hosted by Catholic Charities in the Diocese’s four counties. The collaboration between Catholic Charities and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton, which was by appointment only, is part of a larger effort that was announced in March. in which the CCDOT works with regional partners to provide vaccine support and education to underserved populations, including Latino, Black and immigrant communities.

As part of that role, the diocesan social services organization is also collaborating with parishes across the Diocese of Trenton.

“I need to get vaccinated because of my health,” shared Trenton resident Alfreda Mobley. The clinic, she continued, “is an awesome way to reach out to the community. I’m not nervous.”

As Alfreda moved along in line and got her got her first vaccine shot, she had one message to share: with everyone else in her community “Go get vaccinated!”

During the clinic’s morning hours, Catholic Charities staff registered and guided recipients while nurses from Catholic Charities and RWJ worked together to administer the vaccines.

Susan Loughery, CCDOT associate executive director, expressed that she was “so grateful to have our nurses walking side by side with the Robert Wood Johnson nursing staff.”

It was a sentiment shared on the RWJ side of the team as well.

“We have been thrilled for the opportunity to work with Catholic Charities,” shared Diane Grillo, vice president for health promotion at RWJ Hamilton. “We are seeing a little more hesitancy or fear around the vaccine. Our role is to educate the community about the facts, about the science. Our staff is committed to that educational factor as well as the distribution of the vaccine.”

Loughery added, “Catholic Charities is here to support the community, and we are so excited to have vaccine supply.”

For Trentonian Brian Eppes, it was important to take advantage of the clinic and get the vaccine, “My hope is that everybody does what they need to do and what they’re supposed to do. It’s important.”

Several people in Guillermo Lopez’ family had already received the vaccine, which served as motive for him to sign up for the clinic. “It’s a way to care for ourselves, sure, but it’s also a way to protect our loved ones, our families and friends. My hope is that more people will get vaccinated so we can maybe get back to a sense of normalcy one day.”

Lopez, a parishioner of St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, admitted to being a little nervous, given that some people react differently to the vaccine. Even with the nerves, he shared that getting the vaccine is something that gives him a sense of relief and calm.


The CCDOT will offer its next vaccine clinic through its El Centro branch in Trenton at Sacred Heart Church on Broad Street, Sunday, April 25. All are welcome; an appointment is not necessary.