Pastor DeLeesa Meashintubby welcomed the Second Gentleman of the United States. Doug Emhoff was in town and visited a COVID vaccination clinic at the WOW Hall.
DeLeesa, who is executive director of Volunteers In Medicine, was joined by Sarah Koski and Daniel Gerlach. Daniel, a sophomore at Eugene’s Bushnell University, praised the clinic for opening its doors to our most vulnerable populations.
Daniel Gerlach: I just want to touch on the vaccination of the unhoused population and how extraordinary, how awesome that is.
DeLeesa Meashintubby: For me, I was so enthused to see the people there at the WOW Hall getting the injections, the vaccinations, that for me, I forgot what I was there for, for a minute or two. And then all of a sudden, we’re standing and we’re chatting and talking, then you see these guys with suits and, you know, you see the earpieces and things and it’s kinda like, ‘Oh, those guys,’ you know? When you see those guys come in, you remember what you’re there for.
You know, I was expecting it to be low key, and not knowing that we could see his expression and see his face. As he watched the person get vaccinated, he really looked proud at that moment. I think he really came here looking at what’s happening with the communities, and he looked like he was really into what he was doing. When he came to Eugene and he was talking, it sounded like a person who had a vested interest in what was happening. You would have thought that, ‘Okay, he’s someone from this community, that’s looking out for the community.’ And so he seemed really down to earth. He seemed to really legitimately care about what was going on and he really was personable because I was able to give him a story.
John Q: Pastor Deleesa was able to share her story with the Second Gentleman.
DeLeesa Meashintubby: COVID has really touched my family because I lost my mother-in-law a week before Christmas to COVID. I lost an uncle two weeks before she passed away to COVID, then there’s been cousins that have passed away. So COVID has been personal for me and not just personal, it’s been heartache. When I explained that to him, he said, ‘People need to hear that story and stories like those because when you put a face to the name, COVID is not just a virus or disease, it’s a person that you can see right there.’ And that helped me a lot because, some people don’t realize that COVID is the real deal and that once it has a face to it, It does become personal to you.
And so, you know, I think what we have to look at is, that they’re not victims, patients. They’re not White Bird’s patients, they’re not anybody’s patients. It’s our community members. And they are members that we are part of a membership of, and we have to be about our brothers’ keepers and take care of the community as a group.
We each have our own little niche that we fill in the community, and the fun part about that is being the best you can be when you’re doing what you do best. And then when you’re not trying to be all things to everybody, you’re not good at anything. So when we’re to work, working together, I always say we’re better together, but you know what? The community is healthier together. When we all come together to take care of each other.
John Q: Daniel has written an essay about how early Christians tended to the sick during earlier pandemics.
Daniel Gerlach: I love that, that we should reach out to every group and all peoples that need love, ’cause they’re our brothers in there. We need to hear each other’s stories. I think we should all should all write and we should all listen to one another. And, and I think just as a community, we need to write more about what we see going on in the world, and just transformative stuff, like, ‘This is how I love my enemy.’ ‘This is how I love people that don’t treat me well.’
John Q: Sarah Koski, the Executive Director of Love for Lane County, praised Pastor Deleesa as her role model. She is one who lives her faith.
Sarah Koski: We as believers and as Christians—I represent a Christian organization—It’s one thing to say I’m a Christian, and it’s another thing to live out what my faith is saying. And to live out what my faith is saying is: We tend to the poor, we feed the hungry, we visit those in prison. We reach out to a community that is hurting. You know, the whole reason of, of Jesus sitting with the tax collectors or with the prostitutes—they weren’t, they weren’t all with this glorious, beautiful frilly conversation. You don’t think that the members of society that society had written off might not have a couple of cuss words in their mouth, right? We can’t get on such a pedestal that we can’t be okay integrating with society. And I think that that’s why I dearly love Deleesa and the work that she is doing, not only with Volunteers in Medicine and St Mark’s, but this woman is living out The Word day by day.
And she’s a great representation and role model for somebody like Daniel, who has the vision. I could see a Deleesa Meashintubby vision birthing in Daniel and bringing the community together and doing that whole ‘We’re better together’ and so bringing together the wisdom of the elders, but yet the vigor and the strength of youth together. That’s, what’s going to make a successful community.
John Q: Daniel Gerlach asked how young people could help the whole community.
Daniel Gerlach: So for young people or people wanting to get inspired, and, getting more involved and helping take care of the community, what are some things that you would say to people wanting to help the community, beyond COVID and beyond our current circumstances right now.
DeLeesa Meashintubby: I’m so glad, glad you asked that because Daniel, we still have to move forward even when COVID passes by—whenever it passes by, because it’s going to be with us for a bit—but remember that we still have to live. So volunteering: Go out and volunteer if even if you need to want to just go out and see what one of these clinics are all about. And these vaccination clinics do that. We are giving vaccinations here at Volunteers in Medicine. If anyone wants to come out, volunteer to help us or do that, you know, we’d love to have you. And with young people, we also have to stress to them that, uh, sooner or later they’re going to be at our age too. So they need to study us to see how to do better, to see what to do and then to see what not to do. So I think, you know, I would love for the young people to understand what we’re really, truly going through if they could see one of these vaccination clinics. If they could talk to someone who is hesitant about the vaccination, if they could talk to someone who loves getting the vaccination or, or looking forward to it and then make your own decision, but let it be an informed decision. And I can’t tell anyone to go and take the vaccination, but I can tell you to study up on it, get informed information so you can make informed decisions about getting the vaccination. Wear your mask. It’s not just protecting or taking, looking at your rights, being taken away, we’re protecting each other. And so just do, what’s been placed in front of you and take care of each other because you know what, if we don’t take care of each other, who is?
John Q: Deleesa has a photo of the historic occasion, and Doug Emhoff has a standing invitation to St. Mark’s.
DeLeesa Meashintubby: I was really pleased to see that the second gentleman really cared this much about what’s going on in the United States to stop at a town like Eugene, Oregon, and especially at a place like the WOW Hall. He did tell me that he thought if he had ever had enough time, he would love to come to see the church.
John Q: Deleesa thanked Chris Hecht of White Bird, Gov. Brown, Rep. DeFazio — all of the federal, state, and local officials who helped bring the Second Gentleman to Eugene.
DeLeesa Meashintubby: I want to think Chris Hecht for collaborating and bringing us into this. Chris from White Bird, he is just totally, I just say totally awesome. And. I have not seen someone that is so willing to come together and work with others to, uh, help make our community a better place. Everybody that was there—the governor being there, Congressman DeFazio’s being there, the state, the federal, it was the local and you know what, that’s how it has to build. It has to start locally, then spread to your state, then spread federally. And then, you know, what we have to do is just all know that we’re here for the common good of mankind and let’s keep humanity into what we’re doing.