I want to take a moment this holiday season and before year’s end to reflect on the past year, look ahead, and express my heartfelt appreciation and gratitude for all that you have done and continue to do for your neighbors, communities, and the nation.
It has been another difficult year – a year filled with immense challenges, hurdles, and heartbreak. But it has also been an incredibly inspiring year. A year filled with hope as the new vaccines for COVID-19 became easily accessible for adults and children as young as 5. A year when so many stepped up to improve the health and well-being of their communities. The MRC is no exception; in fact, you are a shining example. The value, impact, and selflessness of your volunteer service this year has been awe-inspiring. You were prepared and you responded. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost two years since the MRC network’s COVID-19 response efforts began with just a few units assisting at call centers to answer community questions about the new virus in January 2020. Today, more than 600 MRC units have responded in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, contributing more than 2 million volunteer hours in the fight against COVID-19. And these response efforts continue and will continue as communities face the newest threat from the omicron variant.
A few weeks ago on the “MRC: 2021 Year in Review” Well Check Webinar, we highlighted the collective achievements of the network this year. And while COVID-19 has certainly been the focus, MRC units have continued to respond to a wide array of other emergencies facing their communities. Units have responded to hurricanes, floods, and tropical storms. Volunteers provided vaccinations and language interpretation services to arriving Afghan nationals. You’ve responded by setting up flu clinics, as you do every year. And to the extent possible, units have continued public health and preparedness initiatives, trainings, and exercises that are key in building strong and resilient communities – and the strong, ready MRC network of units and volunteers.
The network has so much to be proud of.
As we close 2021, I hope you feel the gratitude from our national program office and your local communities for the role that you have played and your perseverance in the face of adversity. And as we look to 2022, I hope you feel hopeful, optimistic, and proud that your work continues to be a critical part of this fight.
I wish you all happy holidays and a safe, restful, and healthy New Year!
Director, Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Program
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) | Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)
Office of Emergency Management and Medical Operations | Division of Readiness