ROME, N.Y. (WSYR) — A woman and her family are taking on a daunting task, fielding calls from Central New York seniors to get them vaccinated.
Night and day, Dedrea DiCastro sits at her dining room table, constantly refreshing the state’s vaccination website. She does whatever she can to score vaccine appointments for people who reach out to her, not knowing how to use the website. She calls on her husband and her two teen boys to help, each of them fighting for a spot.
“I love helping people. This is who we need to protect and I feel really, really bad that it’s come down to this,” DiCastro said.
The whole operation began last month when Dedrea was trying to get a vaccine appointment for her 90-year-old mother-in-law and her parents.
“I was literally sweating. I felt like I was trying to get the best concert ticket and there’s only 10 tickets available,” DiCastro said.
DiCastro knew that if she was having such trouble, it would be more difficult for those who are older and aren’t fast enough to get the appointment in time. She starting helping other family members, neighbors, and then strangers. Word grew fast and soon enough, she helped more than 200 people in Madison and Oneida counties get their appointments lined up. DiCastro takes down their personal information including their name, phone, address, and date of birth. She then fills out their forms, prints them, and her husband delivers the papers. She asks for nothing in return, but people still find a way to say, ‘Thank you’.
“I don’t want anything. People have brought flowers, they’ve brought gifts, food, some lady brought us dinner twice, just in such appreciation,” DiCastro said.
NewsNation affiliate WSYR spoke with a family DiCastro ended up assisting, who say they would have been lost without her help.
“Very grateful, I’ve called her a good samaritan and she’s just, she’s phenomenal,” said Kris Dombeck, who lives with her 99-year-old mom, Eleanor Trowell.
The two got their shots last weekend at SUNY Poly.
“One in a million…that she would take the time to do all of this,” Trowell said.
“They just really touch my heart that they’re so thankful and glad that I could help,” DiCastro said. “And it makes me happy.”
However, appointments have been limited for the DiCastro’s to choose from. As they’re serving mostly people in Madison and Oneida Counties, they’ve been looking at appointments at SUNY Polytechnic Institute and the drive-thru site in Rome. They may be hard to come by, but the DiCastro’s say they will do whatever they can to help.
“That’s just one person closer to the second shot and they can just breathe a little bit easier,” DiCastro said.
Dedrea will take emails from any Central New Yorker, 65 years old and older, who needs help getting an appointment. To contact her, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.