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From The Center: One year of the COVID-19 pandemic and how The Center continues to help our community

From The Center: One year of the COVID-19 pandemic and how The Center continues to help our community
Dear Center Community, 
It seems unimaginable that we are approaching the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Governor’s Stay-At-Home order to combat it. This past year has been so incredibly difficult - our lives have changed completely and there has been heartbreaking loss. The loss of human touch, of family, friends, loved ones, including over 500,000 of our fellow citizens; we have endured losses of community gatherings and annual celebrations, and so many have endured losses of employment and businesses and the dreams that go with them. At The Center, we have seen the impact of the pandemic, and the needs of our community have grown exponentially. And through it all, The Center is here for you, as we have been for almost 50 years. 
Since closing our main facility’s doors in March of last year, The Center has provided critical, and mostly virtual, Emergency Services to help our LGBTQ community through this pandemic. Although a bit of a long list, I'd like to share some defining moments from the past year.
  • We have increased those we serve at our twice-monthly food banks, and created innovative food programs like Nourishing the Community, Non-Perishables Home Delivery and have proudly served more than 1,500 per month, totaling more than 16,800 community members served throughout the past year.
  • We provided critical housing assistance and more than $125,000 dollars in rental relief funds to help community members stay in their homes. We have made over 1,100 connections of youth to The Center's housing programs and services for those experiencing homelessness.
  • Behavioral Health Services has continued to care for and support our community’s mental health, providing over 4,200 virtual individual counseling and group sessions.
  • Our critical and varied Support and Discussion groups are now held virtually, and we’ve created new offerings to keep community connected, providing more than 900 of these groups this past year.  
  • We continue to value our community’s Sexual Health and Wellness by providing HIV testing, redesigned with drive-thru and walk-up options, resulting in more than 230 tests.
  • We have increased resources for our Black community including Support and Discussion groups like Brave Space, Heal Thy Soul, and Let’s Talk Tuesdays. The Center has also re-dedicated ourselves to our anti-Black racism work and trainings internally with our staff, board of directors, and our volunteers.
  • The Center’s resources for our Seniors/50+ Better have continued and we’ve added new virtual groups, helped seniors navigate the waters of online discussion groups, fight isolation, stay fit, and access vital food resources.
  • Hillcrest Youth Center and South Bay Youth Center have merged their programming, continuing to make a life-changing difference for LGBTQ youth with age-appropriate virtual discussion groups, one-on-one check ins, gender-affirming clothing and makeup, assistance with resumes and acquiring a job, food deliveries, and more.
  • Project TRANS has provided important Discussion and Support groups, as well as a Name & Gender Marker Change Clinic. Center staff have written gender-affirming letters for gender confirmation surgeries, and linked clients to care including primary care, specialty HIV care and prevention, hormone replacement therapy, legal assistance, and referrals.
  • Latin@ Services has helped with support, advocacy, housing and rental assistance, translation services for documents, referrals to legal help, food resources, health education and referrals, and crisis intervention. 
  • We conducted critical Civic Engagement work, engaging with our community. We sent 4,500 text messages to our community sharing Census information. We conducted the largest non-partisan voter engagement campaign in our history, making over 60,000 calls and texts to supporters of The Center encouraging participation in the 2020 elections, which resulted in 96% of those we spoke to turning out to vote. And we served as a 4-day Super Polling site, helping more than 1,200 community members to cast their ballot.
  • Our Emergency Referral and Resource Phone Line has fielded more than 2,800 calls to help and direct our community to resources.
Importantly, we have continued to be a trusted messenger to our community, to inform, advocate, provide services, as well as help and hope, and always, always welcome, support, and value every single community member. If you need The Center’s Emergency Services, please reach out and know you are not alone - call 619.800.4252 from 9am - 4pm or 619.800.4216 from 4pm - 9pm or email frontdesk@thecentersd.org.
I am so proud of our Center team, and just how much we have been able to create innovative ways to serve our LGBTQ community when you needed us the most. I want to thank our amazing Center team for all of their incredible work over this past year, and I want to thank all of you for supporting us every step of the way.
There is hope on the horizon for the end of this pandemic, but we all must continue to do our part until we can all receive the vaccine. Our strong, amazing, and resilient LGBTQ community will get through this tremendously difficult time, as we have in the past, together. And I look forward with bold hope to the day when we can all gather again in community.
In community,