CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — A track athlete, an activist in the community, a beloved son and a young father, that’s how Lakeisha Barron-brown remembers her son, Jon’Tavese O’Mari Brown.
He died on October 26th of 2021 at just 21-years-old of COVID-19.
On Friday, Barron-Brown was giving back to the community she says her son loved so much by providing free turkeys and canned goods for Christmas dinners at the Roosevelt Neighborhood Center in Charleston.
The KJ Taylor Foundation and the local Charleston fraternity Xi Alpha Omega Xi Phi were also involved.
But it was more than just food for Barron-Brown, free COVID-19 vaccinations were also being offered by the Partnership of African American Churches (PAAC).
“So we know food, we need that for the nourishment of our bodies, so we’re healthy, but also I know for the sake of the vaccine we need the vaccine to help save one’s life as well,” she said.
Barron-Brown says her son Jon’Tavese was not vaccinated when he died.
“He had some fear with the vaccine, the unknown, I think was some of the hesitations my son had not to get vaccinated,” she said.
Although Jon’Tavese was in the hospital battling kidney disease, she believes had he been vaccinated, he could’ve had a longer fight for his life when he contracted COVID-19 weeks into his hospitalization.
Susan Cunningham with PAAC says they encounter fear frequently in the African American community.
“A lot of people are scared and what we’re finding out is some people are scared of the actual needle, not scared of the vaccine itself,” said Cunningham.
Cunningham says she wants people to know the vaccines are safe and the process is quick and easy.
“What I know from my personal experience is for my son’s life, it was more than he just not being able to smell, it was more than he not being able to taste it as more than him just having flu-like symptoms, my son literally lost his life from COVID.”