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Moving the Needle

Social work student does his part in administering COVID vaccines

Helping others is at the heart of Chris Greim’s life. So, when the firefighter-turned-social work student had the opportunity to administer COVID-19 vaccines, he didn’t hesitate to sign up. 

“It’s pretty amazing,” said Chris, a member of Bridgewater State University’s Class of 2022 who vaccinates hundreds of people a week for Beth Israel Lahey Health. “Without exception, everyone that comes to get the vaccine is excited to get it.”

His background as a retired West Barnstable firefighter and paramedic makes the Sandwich resident a perfect fit to administer vaccines. Chris, who also works at South Shore Hospital, earned an associate degree in fire science and EMS from Cape Cod Community College. It was there that a counselor suggested he consider BSU’s School of Social Work

Chris, a Navy veteran who volunteers at a camp for children who lost a parent or sibling, sought a new way to make a difference in people’s lives.

“I love being at Bridgewater,” he said. “I love the interaction. It’s been a great experience. Being an older student was a little scary, but everyone’s made me feel welcome and quite at home.”

He enjoys the real-world experiences professors bring to the classroom, including the chance to work with the Boys & Girls Club of Plymouth for a project in part-time faculty member Lisa Aguiar’s service-learning class.

Aguiar praised Chris’ commitment to self-reflection and learning.

“Being a social worker is all about helping people,” she said. “Chris has always helped people. ... It’s that desire to help others and put others first. I think those are things that are going to translate well into the social work profession.”

Chris aims to go on to graduate school and work as an adjustment counselor in a middle school. He gravitated to social work because he can follow through and serve clients for longer periods of time.

“I’ve spent most of my adult life fixing problems,” he said. “The nice thing about social work is you do more follow up. …  As a firefighter paramedic, we drop people off at a hospital and very rarely do we find out what happens to them.”

For now, Chris is happy to know he is vaccinating eager Americans every week.

“They want to help save the world,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

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