So far, there seems to be at least a glimmer of hope for equitable distribution of the coronavirus vaccine. But when it comes to support services for at-risk populations, and our most vulnerable seniors and children, the fight for fairness continues.

Fundamental and structural inequities still persist for communities of color, the poor and the marginalized. Statistics show that Black people have lost a year of life expectancy, supposedly due to the pandemic. But the truth is that Black people and other minorities were already below the national average in life expectancy before the pandemic hit. We have much work to do.

If there is any silver lining to the pandemic it is that it has shone light on these inequities.

The challenge before us is twofold: We must ramp up the distribution of vaccines to those who need them the most, adding more sites that reach the most affected communities where they are, while working to put real solutions in place to reverse the underlying inequalities in health care, access to healthy food, education and economic opportunities that desperately need to be addressed.

There’s a sense of pride and admiration for those in our community who work for equity, shape their outreach to educate and actively strive to combat the dual pandemics of COVID and an unfair system.

Among these champions:

Whittier Street Health Center/CEO Frederica Williams:  Whittier has been at the forefront of more than a few crises in our community. Whittier’s vans have been in multiple communities doing COVID testing. Of great value are Whittier’s educational symposiums that educate our community on health care issues that disproportionately affect us, such as prostate and breast cancer.

Getting the word out: Every hospital and community center should collaborate with the Bay State Banner’s Be Healthy magazine. This one-of-a-kind publication is focused on educating our community on the specifics of how health care issues impact communities of color.

Boston’s COVID-19 Task Force: A true force for good, its members comprise a community action dream team. They are on the ground doing the work that needs to be done in the neighborhoods that continue to be hardest hit — not just by the virus, but by wholesale neglect.

Mattapan’s Morning Star Baptist Church/Bishop John M. Borders III: God bless the Rev. Borders, who recently opened his magnificent church as a vaccination site. Other churches need to follow suit. There are no messengers for our people more trusted than our ministers who work to lift our spirits and nourish our souls. Thank you to all the ministers who rolled up their sleeves and took the shot. Our community is less afraid as a result.

Action for Boston Community Development: Long a frontline champion in any fight calling for advocating for those on the margins. No doubt it has been difficult for them and nonprofits all over the city, But ABCD finds a way to bring vital assistance — including fuel assistance — to families struggling to survive in an unrelenting pandemic.

The JFK Center in Charlestown: An ABCD community affiliate, it has served Charlestown’s poor and low income families for more than five decades. During the pandemic, staff was on the streets, sometimes in the snow, delivering bags of food, checking on seniors and supporting quality child care in addition to developing programs focused on coping with the virus.

Advocating for the immigrant community: Gladys Vega, head of the Chelsea Collaborative/La Colaborativa, went public with her concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in congregate housing, and linguistic barriers to education and access. In addition to helping the community through its food pantry, the Collaborative was designated a vaccine site.

Thank God for all the “boots on the ground” who run toward the need, not away from it, and fight for fairness and equity for those who are often ignored, left out and left behind.

Joyce Ferriabough Bolling is a media and political strategist and communications specialist.

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