Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Los Angeles LGBT Center has continued to provide services to more LGBT people than any other organization in the world. Normally, the Center sees more than 42,000 clients visits each month.
However, community needs are growing and changing during the crisis, and the Center has been evolving to meet those needs — all while losing a significant amount of much-needed funding due to social distancing and economic uncertainty.
“The Center is so committed to providing these critical services that mean so much right now,” Center Board of Directors Co-Chair Susan Feniger said during a virtual town hall meeting with donors on April 7.
For assistance during these tough financial times, the Center has established theCARE (Community Action Response Effort) Fund. Contributions ensure that resources and services, such as health care and food distribution, are available to those who need them throughout the pandemic.
“Clearly we’re the first responders for the LGBT community and that is so important,” Feniger added. ”We have never, ever walked away from the community during tough times. The Center’s team—these incredible first responders—are working day and night to make sure we continue to provide these very needed services.”
Procedural adjustments have been made to the Center’s Health Services, Senior Services, Youth Services, and other areas to remain in operation. For instance, the vast majority of routine primary care, HIV care, PrEP and transgender appointments have been converted to telehealth. Other programs, such as Legal Services, Policy and Community Building, Trans* Lounge, and youth mentoring are continuing virtually.
The biggest financial hit has been cancelation of the seven-day, 545-mile AIDS/LifeCycle scheduled for May 31 – June 6, which benefits both the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the HIV/AIDS-related services of the Center. In order to maintain the current level of HIV/AIDS services provided to the community, both organizations have still set a joint fundraising goal of $13 million—of which more than $6.5 million has already been raised by the ride’s participants through the innovative My 545 challenge.
“We’re going to take a huge loss for the AIDS/LifeCycle this year,” Center Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings explained during the town hall. “That’s not money for the future—that’s money we are spending now. To the degree that we don’t have it, we have to figure out other ways of compensating for that and (The CARE Fund) is one of those ways.”
To contribute to the CARE Fund, visit lalgbtcenter.org/care.