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Grand Junction Housing Authority, CMU and Mesa County serve residents unable to leave home

Mobility is a part of life easily taken for granted until it is lost. For some in the Grand Valley leaving home is a difficult undertaking. For those whose movement is limited, a wide range of factors can influence their inability to walk, drive or leave the confines of their residence.

On Friday, March 5, CMU faculty and students volunteered to reduce the impacts of immobility on local residents, making the community stronger and individuals more resilient in the face of COVID-19. The community service project occurred in partnership with the Grand Junction Housing Authority. Three teams of vaccine volunteers administered COVID-19 prevention shots in the homes of people unable to leave their residence.


“People who face everyday mobility challenges are also experiencing isolating effects of a global pandemic,” said Health Sciences Director Bette Schans, PhD, who was present for a pre-clinic training at the CMU Health Sciences building located on the north side of campus. “This student service project was so important in setting the stage for people returning to a life of community and connection.”

After the training, student/faculty teams dispersed to three assisted living locations including Downtown Grand Junction, Walnut Avenue and Bookcliff Avenue. The result was the delivery of more than 100 vaccines to people who otherwise would have faced significant barriers to acquiring the much needed inoculations.

“CMU healthcare-related students generally have a temperament that leads them to know and believe we have responsibility to serve those among us who live in the margins, or maybe just need a little extra help or support,” said CMU Safe Together, Strong Together Co-Chair and Physician Assistant Studies Program Director Amy Bronson, EdD. “Today the community mindedness of our students reflected that temperament towards service.”

Bronson was among the faculty and students who helped that also included Danielle Pelletier, Keelin Schaffrath, Kayla Eversole, Lucy Graham, Tedra Gummin, Amanda Cheetham, Bryan Anderson, Cassidy Sanders, Mita White, Kate Smith and Hannah Reger.

Scott Aker is the chief operating officer of the Grand Junction Housing Authority and was on location during the Walnut vaccine clinic. The student team and facility residents gathered in the recreation hall which had been closed for more than a year because of the pandemic. Reopening the recreation room was an emotional time for some of the residents who missed each other’s companionship. The opening of the area was also a foreshadowing of future connectivity that may return for residents once the vaccine helps to protect them from COVID-19 infection.

“Being here today we celebrate our partnership with CMU but we also celebrate the return of joy to the faces of our residents who can now anticipate some new version of normal as the vaccine takes hold community wide,” said Aker.


CMU President Tim Foster encouraged CMU leaders to continue shifting the campus’ pandemic response plan to focus on the community during the recent Future is Now pandemic planning effort. The shift to community focus was a result of CMU continuing to bring its own COVID-19 infections down and because the university has built a useful infrastructure to battle COVID-19.

“The mobile vaccination clinic was an extension of ongoing CMU efforts to support the community,” said CMU President Tim Foster. Foster explained that from day one of the global pandemic CMU and Western Colorado Community College students and faculty have been on the forefront of community service. “From making masks to administering vaccines, our students have been leading since the announcement of the pandemic more than a year ago. John Marshall and Amy Bronson have done an absolutely incredible job for CMU and the entire Grand Valley.”

For Assistant Professor of Nursing Lucy Graham, PhD, the global pandemic has created a special place for medical professionals in the community. New appreciation for the importance of medicine and healthcare workers is a natural outcome of COVID-19.

“While COVID-19 disrupted the education of all students, the virus also created a necessity for service to others,” said Graham. “Our nursing students answered that call and I believe will be stronger health providers as a result.”

Colorado Mesa University plans to open campus entirely for the Fall 2021 semester. With optimism growing about vaccine distribution, campus leaders see the community fully opening right alongside the university.


Written by David Ludlam