Last March, the reality of the world changed and the way one conducts business is reimagined; COVID-19 transformed humanity, exposing vulnerable areas of the current social construction, and highlighted the role of an essential worker to a new level of admiration.
The pandemic gave the world an opportunity to expand their definition of humility and compassion. Hammond Entertainment has impacted so many lives with Kaiser Permanente by distributing vaccines in Napa Valley. The production company’s CEO Bill Hammond explained how this experience woke him up to a deeper understanding for his purpose and destiny.
Hammond described his current view of people flowing in to get their vaccines; he shared gratitude towards Kaiser Permanente for allowing him an opportunity to assist in the world’s most crucial time of need. When everyday life changed drastically in March, Hammond imagined how impactful this incident would be on the world. His concern grew after the severity of the pandemic came into clear view.
Hammond Entertainment has orchestrated national and international concerts, tours, and private events for over 25 years, working with celebrities such as Anthony Anderson, Cedric the Entertainer, Beyonce, and Elton John. In a matter of days, the long shifts of production came to a halt; the events had to be cancelled due to the deadly COVID-19 virus spreading across the world.
Cedric the Entertainer reflected on the current efforts of Hammond Entertainment. “When you use your skill, talents, and resources to help others in a crisis—to me, that’s the definition of a community leader. I’m proud of my friend and business partner, William Hammond and the Hammond Productions team on their service to help curb the spread of this COVID-19 pandemic.”
Hammond elaborated on his mental state during the beginning stages of COVID-19; he said he was in a good head space. “That time in March was the first of the next seven months of just transitioning—mentally, physically, and work wise,” Hammond stated.
The production company had to reduce their manpower to their new projected income, which was about 70 percent less than their average revenue. This weighed heavily on Hammond. He said, “Everybody had to work from home, but there’s really no work.” The production company CEO had to cancel three of his most colossal events, but Hammond was in a clear space to think about his next steps with precision.
A vaccine for coronavirus became available earlier this year; however, its reach and availability were extremely sparse in underrepresented communities. Hammond received a call from the Sr. Vice President of Kaiser, looking to collaborate in logistics and distribution of the vaccine. With no hesitation, Hammond Entertainment became a beacon of hope for the elderly, migrant fieldworkers, and heavily impacted communities throughout various parts of Napa Valley.
This was intentional plan to address the racial inequity found in the distribution of the vaccinations. The State identified parts of Vallejo as one of the highest rates of infection. Kaiser Permanente and Hammond Entertainment came up with the goal to vaccinate as many of 409,000 Solano natives by August 2021; currently, the daily distribution is 4,000.
Hammond elaborated on the collaboration with Kaiser Permanente and Solano County. The opportunity came through a phone call. Hammond explained, “I had a working relationship with Kaiser for two years doing their projects for senior management, inner-city and community-based programs …” Hammond believes having worked with Kaiser previously, supported his ability to handle this significant task of vaccine distribution.
Through his experience of overseeing massive events in media and entertainment, Hammond was ready to take on the task of distributing vaccines within three days of saying yes to it.
After the call, Hammond went into action; he met with one of the members from his production team, and they were on a plane the next day to Oakland, CA. Hammond scouted three sites for their pop-up distribution centers for the Kaiser Permanente collaboration. After selecting the location, Hammond assembled his management team for the venue within 48 hours.
Hammond expressed that there were tour managers, production managers, and road managers who had sparce projects since the pandemic took hold of the nation; he called upon them for this project and they all agreed to be of service.
In collaboration with Kaiser Permanente, Hammond Entertainment created 170 jobs for the local community, includomg tour, road, and production managers. He said, “If I didn’t have them, it would been a little harder to assemble.”
Coined the “Road Warriors,” a committed group and the driving force behind such vigorous vaccine distribution, includes Michael Droke, Alonzo Ward, Kyle Newport, Paul Raksit, Charles Sandlin, Dean Lawrence, Tracy Underwood, and Jaime Everett.
With the Road Warriors team fully constructed, Hammond went on to explain the operations that keep the distribution of vaccines flowing seamlessly to the greater part of the Napa Valley population. Within 17 days, 53,000 people have been vaccinated through the Hammond Entertainment and Kaiser Permanente pop-up locations.
According to the official press release, one of the sites is located on the Solano County fairgrounds, a 140-acre lot in the center of Vallejo, which is a flagged-down area for impacted communities in the Napa Valley region. The vaccine distribution site was developed by Kaiser Permanente, Solano County Public Health, North Bay Healthcare, Touro University California, Medic Ambulance and Partnership HealthPlan of California.
The heartfelt notes from friends and followers are what touches Hammond the most, he said, “Any story that has been done on me or I post something on my Instagram—the heart-felt notes of thank you’s from my friends and followers, it makes me stop and think, ‘what a lucky and blessed person I am.’”
Hammond continued, “On a daily basis, I see thousands of faces, I see insecurity, I see fear—when they do walk out of here, it’s a smile and a thank you.” Hammond explained that this moment has become his legacy; his value has been fully realized in this community, and he expressed his pride an being African-American-owned company.