To mobilize for disaster response and relief, LGBTQ Connection works closely in partnership with its sibling programs across local nonprofit, “On The Move”. After news of the numerous fires ravaging throughout Napa and Sonoma Counties, the organization focused its efforts to support the North Bay’s most vulnerable youth, including foster parents, transitioning foster youth, homeless youth, youth transitioning from other systems of care, Latino and immigrant youth and LGBTQ youth.
Following the Napa and Sonoma wildfire disaster that began on Monday, October 9, 2017, service delivery and relief efforts for LGBTQ Connection have included:
- Providing safe spaces: LGBTQ Connection Centers in Napa and Santa Rosa have remained open, offering a safe meeting place for staff, clients and community members.
- Emergency, Basic Needs: LGBTQ Connection is providing the coordination and distribution of basic need essentials including food, water, clothes, shoes, hygiene products, bedding, kitchenware and emergency gift cards.
- Street Outreach: LGBTQ Connection staff have been, and will continue, to be present on the streets of Napa and Sonoma Counties working with the homeless youth population. Their aim is to both locate youth that have been displaced, offer resources and services and to educate them on the importance of wearing protective masks during the time when the air quality is exceptionally poor.
- Supporting Displaced families: Youth who have been displaced, evacuated, or have lost their homes have been supported with immediate basic needs, assistance and referrals for shelter and housing resources.
- Power and Communication Resources: Several households have lost power and/or the ability to communicate with others. LGBTQ Connection is supporting youth with free Wi-Fi access, charging stations and access to free phone usage to communicate with loved ones.
- Information, Referrals and Case Management: LGBTQ Connection is providing comprehensive referrals and case management to community members to ensure individuals and families are accessing resources for shelter, basic needs and financial assistance.
- All services are available bilingually in English and in Spanish and the organization has put in extra effort to coordinate translation services for emergency alerts and community-wide information and resources.
In order to address the comprehensive and urgent needs of youth affected by wildfires, LGBTQ Connection requires additional funding to support the purchase of emergency food, supplies and gift cards in order to have the flexibility to meet youths’ individual needs. Donations may be made at http://onthemove.
LGBTQ Connection is also asking our LGBTQ friends and neighbors to reach out and tell us what you need. If you or someone you know has been displaced by the fires and are in need of support, resources, or advocacy, we are here for you. Please contact program manager Jessie Hankins with requests at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will also continue to visit shelters over the next week to do what we can to ensure that all people accessing the shelters are being welcomed and accessing what they need.