By Linda Borg
The Providence Journal
PROVIDENCE — Shots are supposed to be scary, right?
Not at the William D’Abate Elementary School in Olneyville, where a team of familiar faces greeted families who turned out to have their children vaccinated Tuesday night as part of a statewide effort to get 5- to 11-year-olds protected from COVID-19.
The children entered the building with dread in their eyes. When they saw principal Brent Kermen and nurse Jackie Lefebvre, frowns turned to smiles. The lollypops and Reese’s peanut-butter cups certainly took the sting out of vaccination.
What makes D’Abate special among Providence schools is that the staff – and the principal – have been here for years. Kermen has watched more than one generation of students come and go.
Comfort in numbers
Monday night, more than 70 students were vaccinated here. Tuesday, 62 families were registered and the cafeteria was bustling, with parents queueing up at the sign-in table.
“These families often feel isolated,” Kermen said. “Then they see all of these people here. It’s this large-scale message that people care about you.”
School staff were joined by volunteers from Brown University and ONE Neighborhood Builders, a nonprofit agency that develops affordable housing and has an office across the street.