Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Los Angeles LGBT Center has been able to maintain and expand its services largely because 1,025 volunteers stepped up to do their part during such a challenging time, the organization said.
Last month, the volunteers were honored with a virtual celebration for donating 32,240 combined hours of their time and talents during a turbulent and unpredictable 2020.
“We could not do all that we do without our wonderful volunteers, and we thank each and every one of you for what you’ve done for us,” Center CEO Lorri L. Jean said. “I wish we could be gathering to thank you in person and, hopefully, it won’t be long before we’ll be able to do that once more.”
Volunteers have been critical in enabling the center to launch new programs in response to the pandemic, including Pride Pantry, the Hello Club and Senior Angels. Some of them performed important tasks, such as screening visitors who entered the center’s health clinics and pharmacy.
“It’s easy to be overwhelmed by anxiety and darkness that all this uncertainty brings, but our volunteers have literally been a beacon of light,” Director of Community Engagement Rani DeMesme-Anders said. “What has been most gratifying to me has been watching us reimagine how we embody and serve the community. It’s been a challenging year for all of us.”
Volunteers have also continued to donate their time, often virtually, to a breadth of center departments, among them Senior Services, Health Services, Legal Services, Cultural Arts, Policy and Community Building, and Children, Youth & Family Services.
“[Volunteers] have poured out of the woodwork asking how they can help before we even ask them to,” DeMesme-Anders added. “They’ve worked alongside our frontline staff at our clinics, delivered meals, made wellness calls to clients, helped deliver democracy in this past election. More than anything, they’ve reminded us that serving and connecting with others strengthens us in each and every way.”
Some volunteers were singled out for their extraordinary work, such as Salvador Galati, who was awarded as Outstanding Volunteer for the Pride Pantry program.
“I’ve used the center for some of the resources over the years, and it was my time to give back,” Galati said. “It’s been a rough time for everyone. A lot of us were not employed but there are people less fortunate, and I just thought it was my duty to help out finally.”
For information, visit lalgbtcenter.org.
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