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From The Center: Reflections on the Come Home For The Holidays event

From The Center: Reflections on the Come Home For The Holidays event

The rapid emergence of the Omicron variant in our region and throughout the country has changed much of the pandemic landscape in just two short weeks. We know that the best way to keep our community safe is to get vaccinated, get our boosters, and wear a mask.

As we head into the holidays, for many that means wanting to come together to celebrate. The Center knows the power of community, connection, and access to essential services like a warm meal and food for the pantry. Prior to the Omicron variant spreading throughout our region, we were so fortunate to be able to host our iconic annual community event, Come Home for The Holidays, on December 11th. Our team welcomed community members and provided 300 warm meals courtesy of Gossip Grill in Hillcrest, gave out 200 bags of non-perishable groceries, and provided 124 Target gift cards to families to buy gifts for their children. To help ensure access to our community, we hosted a vaccine clinic in our parking lot where 160 vaccines were given including COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, and flu shots. This vaccine event was in partnership with the County of San Diego in support of the Live Well San Diego vision for healthy, safe, and thriving communities.

The sense of coming home, excitement, sentimentality, and warm togetherness filled The Center as we celebrated in community, and we heard over and over again how welcomed, valued and supported everyone felt. We heard from attendees:

“Walking into the Center's doors after 20 long months was emotional and thrilling in the best ways. Emotions were high because The Center has been a beacon of light in my journey for self-identity and lasting relationships. Seeing my old friends and creating new connections that night was a breath of fresh air. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit everyone hard but the LGBTQ+ community is strong and perseveres.” Shawn B. (he, him, his)

“COVID-19 was the springboard for my egg finally cracking…in the hopes of relieving some of my inner gender dysphoria…a lifetime of not feeling like a person, and seeing someone I did not like or know, was pure emptiness for me.  Although the Center was closed, I was lucky enough to connect with The Center’s Project TRANS. The Come Home for the Holidays was affirming, to say the least, I was able to dress and be referred to as the person I always felt I was inside, the woman inside.” Sedera V. (she, her, hers)

As The Center finishes our much-needed renovations, we will be monitoring the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic as we plan to safely re-open our doors in the first half of 2022. We have been planning our Center Open House on Saturday, January 29th, but need to pause on any further details until after the New Year, when we will reevaluate the status of the pandemic in our region to help guide further planning.

Like many of you, I wish this year would be ending on a much brighter note. But I know our community is resilient. We are in this together, and while we face these very trying times, The Center stands as the place where every person is welcomed, valued, and supported no matter their circumstances. While we are still providing emergency services, we have also shifted to be able to provide essential support. If you need any of our services, please reach out to frontdesk@thecentersd.org or call 619.800.4252 from 9am – 4pm or 619.800.4216 from 4pm – 9pm.

We will get through this pandemic and holiday season as we always have, together in community.