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Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Updated: May 6, 2021

Resilience and recovery are a group effort, especially in the event of a widespread emergency. Partnership between neighbors, communities, counties, and Tribes is key to overcoming crisis. The Bainbridge Prepares Partnership does exactly that, fostering strong partnerships and maximizing community skills to effectively respond to emergency situations.

Bainbridge Prepares, a community-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to emergency preparedness, teamed up with the Bainbridge Island Fire Department in 2011. The City of Bainbridge Island joined the effort in 2016. This unique, collaborative team effectively brings the concept of “whole community preparedness” to life.

An approach that has been instrumental during the COVID-19 pandemic is Bainbridge Prepares’ Medical Reserve Corps, a team of current and former medical professionals committed to supporting community resilience through emergency support. Executive Director, Loren Bast shared, “The team aims to respond to big emergencies that may happen every ten years, along with smaller emergencies, such as a neighbor having a heart attack [...] Under the pretense of emergency preparedness, we are trying to create connected neighborhoods and communities within Bainbridge.” Since the pandemic hit, the Medical Reserve Corps has been active across the state to provide medical expertise and supporting vaccination clinics.

The idea of “neighbors helping neighbors” had a ripple effect which ultimately led to communities helping communities. The partnership has provided about 23,000 COVID-19 vaccines across Kitsap and Jefferson Counties. “Our vaccination clinic was consistently in the top three largest clinics in Jefferson County. Jefferson needed the help and they asked us for assistance, so every week [through April 30, 2021] a team drove from Kitsap to support,” said Bast.

Approaches to equity

Mobile care: The partnership’s mobile team goes out to Jefferson and Kitsap County to reach assisted living homes, community members with serious mental illness, underserved Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) community members, even creatively providing vaccinations for individuals who have oppositions to masked environments. The mobile team removes barriers to COVID-19 vaccines such as transportation, mobility, navigating complex vaccination processes, and public exposure.

Language: To better provide for Spanish speaking community members, the Bainbridge Prepares partnership sets up vaccination sites and volunteer schedules in a way that allows for a Spanish speaking volunteer to greet and accompany community members through each stage of the vaccination site.

Weekend clinics: Weekend clinics help address barriers to vaccine access by providing COVID-19 vaccination opportunities for people who unavailable during the work week (due to various barriers like transportation, work restraints, childcare, etc.).

Build strong partnerships

Building strong partnerships across sector lines and county lines is no easy task. Bast shared that the key to bringing partnerships to fruition is participating in local groups, sharing what you have to offer/ your organization’s value, and being intentional about making connections. By practicing these strategies, Bainbridge Prepares has fostered several key connections such as their partnership with Kitsap Mental Health Services. Each partnership provides a different role and set of skills, and when teamed up together, the Bainbridge Prepares partnership can effectively respond to emergency needs in a way that cultivates community.

Olympic Community of Health is inspired by the collaborative energy, creative problem solving, and community impact of the Bainbridge Prepares Partnership. For more information, check out the fact sheet or contact Loren Bast (

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