When I landed a job at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, my areas of passion intersected: the LGBTQIA+, veteran and homeless populations. I knew the position was going to give me a lot of opportunity to shape our social services program at the Senior Center and also help me to grow as a macro-social worker.
But I never imagined that one day I would be working through a global pandemic, especially with the seniors population who would be affected the most.
When COVID-19 hit, it brought on a lot of uncertainty and anxiety for myself and my staff. How would we continue providing services to our vulnerable seniors while also ensuring that our essential workers remained safe and healthy?
Our social services have shifted to telephone-based and online-based appointments, and we implemented a new grocery delivery program, in which all of our staff members play an important role, to address our seniors experiencing food insecurity. We also have an excellent team of case managers, activities coordinators, and management who all have, at one point or another, delivered groceries, assembled care packages, and distributed lunch to our seniors in need at our Center location.
In addition we have launched a new social call program called Hello Club to reach out to our isolated seniors. We have amazing volunteers who are checking in on our seniors and connecting them to city and county resources.
Our in-person activities such as yoga, Latinx Support Group, and bereavement group (to name a few) have transitioned to virtual platforms. So far, the response has been overwhelming from our seniors who are very grateful that they are able to connect with other seniors and staff members virtually.
So many conversations I have had with our seniors during this crisis have been memorable. When they express their gratitude for our help, it gives me a warm feeling. One senior called me out of the blue because he wanted to check in on me. He didn’t know it, but I really needed that. I think, as service providers, we need to remember to look out for ourselves, too. If we don’t take care of ourselves, it makes it more challenging to care for our clients. I really appreciated that phone call.
I have met a lot of wonderful people at the Center who have welcomed me with open arms. The seniors are just so funny! I always say that they make me look forward to aging. They are more active than most adults my age. And they are so resilient—no matter what life throws at them.
Hometown: Alhambra, CA
Year Started Working at Center: 2017
Staff Position: Sr. Manager of Social Services, Senior Services