Responding to COVID-19
Keeping our Community Healthy
Updated Tuesday, 3/17/2020 at 12 p.m.
Welcome to Tuesday! I hope this finds you well. We now have a registration page for our weekly video chat/check in so you can attend "virtual" drop in hours and share stories, challenges, encouragement, and hopefully laughter! When you sign up for this free meeting, you'll receive an email every Friday with a link to the week's meeting. Join us from your favorite device!
I know not all of you have the luxury of self-isolation. Many of you work in the service industry and live paycheck to paycheck. However, many of our LGBTQ loved ones are at higher risk for complications from this virus due to immunity issues with HIV, diabetes, and other conditions. LGBT Tech has posted this blog post with helpful advice for staying healthy and limiting your contact with others who may be contagious.
We are working with our colleagues at The ARROW Project to try to provide safe and secure peer-to-peer support groups like we normally offer at the Center. We will update you as soon as we are certain of a solution.
Feeling lonely? Need someone to talk to? Request a check in phone call by texting us at 540-466-3320 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may be isolated, but you're never alone. We are here for you!
Sunday, 3/15/2020, 12:45 p.m.
It's a new day! And we are working hard to find ways to create community online to check in on each other and stay connected. We are planning to host a weekly 30 minute online group check in for anyone who would like to join. This check in session will be hosted by Emily Sproul and our partner at the ARROW Project, Sabrina Burress.
Please note this is NOT a therapeutic session like our peer-to-peer groups. Those require security measures that we don't currently have access to. However, you will be able to request individual help if needed from professionals at the ARROW Project.
To participate, please answer the following survey. Once we have settled on the best day and time for every one, you will receive an email with more information. Responses will be collected until 11:59 PM, Monday, March 16. We will do our best to have this service up and running this week.
We are dedicated to our LGBTQ community here in the Valley and we are here to help you not only survive, but THRIVE.
Saturday, 3/14/2020, 12 p.m.
Beloveds, we are making the difficult decision to suspend all in-person activities at the Center, including drop-in hours. As we continue to monitor health department recommendations and professional assessments of pandemic control, we feel this is the best action we can take at this time.
Our mission as an organization is to promote and support the health and well-being of LGBTQ people throughout the Shenandoah Valley and greater Appalachia. We feel it is our responsibility, therefore, to do everything we can to slow transmission of a novel virus for which none of us has immunity. That said, we are also acutely aware that LGBTQ folx living in rural areas already experience intense feelings of isolation and need community connection more than most, and we are dedicated to continuing support of our LGBTQ community.
We encourage anyone needing support to reach out to us via our Facebook page and our website. Our website has the capability for you to request an appointment, and we will be utilizing that function to schedule phone calls, Face Time or Google Hangouts, or whatever way we can connect with you virtually to listen and provide support. You can also send us a text at 540-466-3320 and we can text or call back.
Our peer-to-peer support groups have been suspended as well, but we are exploring ways that we can offer those online with the appropriate HIPPAA compliance in place to ensure your privacy is protected. We will make announcements about those groups as soon as we have a plan.
For LGBTQ youth in our area, we strongly encourage you to use CenterLink’s Q Chat Space to connect with other youth and get support from professional facilitators across the country. The site works much like a webinar - conversations around a particular topic are scheduled for a specific time. All you need to do is register to “attend” and then login to the chat space at the appointed time. This platform is incredibly safe and has been developed with youth security in mind.
Additionally, if you or someone you know is in crisis, please use the hotlines available on our website to reach professional help.
For those in high risk populations - those over 60 and those with heart, lung, or immunity suppressed conditions - please know that we are connected to the newly formed Mutual Aid Infrastructure group for Staunton, Augusta, and Waynesboro. If you need a ride somewhere, or you need someone to pick up your prescriptions or groceries, or you need food assistance, or you’re looking for childcare so you can go to work, please let us know and we will make sure your request is channeled through this group so that our whole community can come to one another’s aid.
Above all, please know that we are here for you, you are loved, you are important, and you belong.
With love and support,
3/13/2020, 3 p.m.
As many of you are already aware, our community has begun taking measures to reduce and control the spread of COVID-19, also known as the Corona virus. We have been in frequent contact with local officials and the health department to monitor the situation. As of now, we are cancelling Center events for the weekend, including our fundraising dinner at Cana Barn Saturday evening and our potluck dinner Sunday.
For now the Center WILL remain open for regularly scheduled drop-in hours with social distancing and hygiene measures in place. We urge anyone in high risk groups, including those over 60 and those with pre-existing health conditions to stay home. We know this can make loneliness and isolation feel more severe. Please reach out to us by email or text if you need anything at all. We are here for you.
SUPPORT GROUPS for SATURDAY, MARCH 14 are currently cancelled, HOWEVER, we are looking into the possibility of a virtual meeting online. We will post here if we are able to get that up and running.