How Covid-19 is Impacting LGBT Seniors
Over the past few weeks, like many organizations, we’ve made some difficult decisions. Closing our doors was one I thought I would never experience as CEO. I miss chatting with Youth in the lobby; watching the after-work crowds come into the building for volleyball, lectures, and performances; checking in with staff and volunteers; and visiting with LGBTQ seniors. I still come into Center on Halsted daily, but it definitely lacks the vibrancy and bustle it had just a few weeks ago. However, I’m humbled and inspired by the outpouring support we’ve received, and the dedicated staff who have stepped up in this crisis.
LGBT Seniors who live in the Center on Addison apartments, and who rely on us for meals, case management, and socializing, are an integral part of our community. Many have lost family and friends and have re-established connections at COA. They hold our history, and many continue to be fierce activists today. And we have to continue to be here for them.
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Since the shelter in place order was implemented, Center on Halsted Senior Services staff has shown up to work, filling out and filing forms for the range of needs from maintaining or receiving benefits to getting prescriptions filled, doing COVID-19 wellness checks, connecting with the seniors, talking with them about their medications, and delivering home products and meals. Volunteers and donors have helped support these efforts by picking up medications and donating food and other necessary items.
In addition to the daily services, our Senior Services team are fierce advocates, too. On March 27th, the team was informed by the city that the box lunches that were provided four times per week would no longer be provided effective March 28th. With food insecurity being a top concern for Town Hall residents, the team immediately rallied together to support the seniors and collaboratively worked together to create a plan.
Senior Services successfully advocated for more time to transition seniors from the box lunch program to the Home Delivered Meals program and the box lunch program was extended for an additional three days. In a 24-hour period, the Senior Services staff completed the Home Delivered Meal application for 55 seniors, most of whom reside in Town Hall. Senior Services also sourced several meal deliveries each week for the residents of Town Hall to help alleviate food insecurity during this difficult time.
As part of the effort to address food insecurity, Senior Services is excited to announce a new partnership with Vincent restaurant in Andersonville. Vincent is now providing soup and salads for 50 Town Hall residents twice weekly. The generous offer initially came about through an employee of Vincent’s who was a previous student of Center on Halsted’s culinary program, Silver Fork.
Chicago’s LGBTQ community is strong. I look forward to the day when I can open the doors at Center on Halsted filled with renewed hope, passion and community I’ve experienced in the past few weeks.
Wishing you health in the weeks ahead,
Modesto Tico Valle,
Chief Executive Officer, Center on Halsted