Welcome to a new week! We've been under social distancing for just over a week now. Some of us have started calling it "physical distancing" since we can still socialize online and that can really help some folx stay connected and supported.
Saturday we held our first weekly online video chat with seven great folx in attendance. Topics ranged from employment changes to gardening and growing mushrooms at home. There was laughter and encouragement. Registration is open for upcoming sessions (all sessions are FREE) and we hope you'll join us for these virtual drop-in hours. Speaking of drop-in hours . . . since we're unable to safely be physically open at the Center, we want to emphasize that we are still here and available for you by phone or video chat. We've updated the calendar on the webpage so you can see the schedule, and you can book an appointment here.
SUPPORT GROUPS for families and youth are coming up this weekend. Sabrina and Charles are working hard to ensure that their online platform is ready for all of you who would like to attend this virtual meeting. We will post details about those groups as soon as we have the information.
This week we will be attending online meetings around using the Discord platform to create chat spaces to connect our clients (so more virtual drop-in hours style programming). We are also working towards obtaining the HIPAA compliance package for Zoom that we will need to protect your privacy during our online conferencing. Thursday we'll attend a health webinar about how COVID-19 specifically affects the LGBTQ community and ways that we can support each other in staying healthy and getting the care we need.
This is also LGBTQ Health Awareness week, so follow us on Instagram and Facebook for information and encouragement about staying healthy.
Finally, just some thoughts and perspectives on where we are as a community in the midst of so much uncertainty. While I'm sad and frustrated that I can't meet up with you in person, offer hugs, read your body language to understand what you're not able to say, I know that our collective health depends on this physical distance. Over the last week, I've thought a lot about the creative ways we are finding to continue to serve you and I feel that even beyond this current state of affairs, the adaptations we make for this situation may well serve us in the months and years to come.
As a rural LGBTQ Center, the area we serve - Rockingham County, Augusta County, and Rockbridge County - presents challenges to us with regards to accessibility. Some may not have transportation to reach us, particularly our unsupported youth who rely on friends and family members to get them where they need to go. By providing online options, we are expanding our accessibility to some of the most remote parts of our service area as well as to some of the most vulnerable members of our community. And that's a good thing. Throughout this time, we will continue to look for the silver linings and highlight for you the ways that people are creating positive change. Be well, friends. Stay in touch.