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From The Center: Help is a phone call away

From The Center: Help is a phone call away

We all appreciate the power of human connection in a deeper way, having all experienced more isolation since COVID-19. At the start of the pandemic, The Center knew how important connection was for our LGBTQ community and that we would be disproportionately affected by this terrible virus. We also knew that, as we have done for 50 years, that we had to help! So, within 48 hours of the first Stay-At-Home order, our Emergency Referral & Resource Phone Line was born, as a critical piece of The Center’s shift to Emergency Services in 2020. In the past year, we have answered more than 2,800 phone calls - that is over 2,800 personal connections to help and resources from a human voice on the other end of the phone who cares, understands, and is dedicated to our community.

Some of the most notable requests are:Shelter, Housing, and Rental Assistance: The trend of community members calling for housing and rental assistance has been unparalleled during this pandemic. We’ve given out more than $140,000 in rental relief to keep our community housed, connected Transitional Age Youth (TAY) with our Safe S.T.A.Y program providing them a place to sleep the very night they call, have engaged with landlords on behalf of community members who were having issues impacting their ability to pay rent, and so much more.

 Sexual Health & Wellness and HIV Services: Throughout the pandemic, we have received calls for our outdoor, socially-distanced HIV Testing and have the ability to schedule appointments for the next day. Our community knows us and trusts The Center to answer the call and provide the free, confidential testing they need, as well as connection to caring staff who are part of the community.

 Food Resources: Many community members are facing real food insecurity during the pandemic due to job loss and reduced income, and call The Center for information on our varied Food Programs and Resources, serving over 1,500 people a month.

Project TRANS: Center staff have fielded calls for those looking for Support Groups, referrals to transgender-competent and friendly healthcare providers, and connection to Behavioral Health Services. Some of the most heartwarming calls have come from parents reaching out on behalf of youth, not knowing the questions to ask and not knowing the answers, but wanting to support the transgender or nonbinary youth in their lives.

 Legal Resources & Assistance: With the pandemic and the issues it continues to bring, we have linked callers to legal assistance for divorce, rental issues, immigration issues, help with community members being held in detention centers, and more.

 The connection to help and resources for our community is the main focus of our Emergency Referral & Resource phone line, but it is so much more. It’s the real-life Center staffer who answers or returns the call as quickly as possible. It is staff “going through their mental Rolodex” to provide, not only the services community members ask for, but additional ones that community members might need and didn’t know existed. It’s the change in the community members’ voices from the beginning to the end of the phone call, the palpable relief felt when the team provides a safe and welcoming space and a caring ear. And it is the continuation of The Center’s service to our LGBTQ community, providing hope for a brighter future.

 If you, or someone you know, are in need of The Center’s Emergency Referral & Resource Phone Line, you are not alone. Please call 619.800.4252 from 9am - 4pm or 619 800.4216 from 4pm - 9pm or email frontdesk@thecentersd.org.

In community,

Cara