Center on Halsted

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Because of the Covid 19 pandemic and the disaster it has caused, I wanted to reach out to non-profits to see how their organizations have been handling the new challenges thrown before them. I talked to Modesto “Tico” Valle the Chief Executive Officer of Center on Halsted.

How has the pandemic affected your programs?

Most staff have moved to shelter-in-place at home and are providing services via telehealth and in some cases face to face. A few staff were laid off due to funding being cut.

What programs are you able to keep going?

Fortunately, COH has been able to continue to provide Behavioral Health, Anti-Violence work, HIV Testing & Prevention, HIV Hotline, Senior Services and we have been supporting partners, like Night Ministry, to provide services for youth.

Has fundraising taken a big hit?

COH has lost over $1 Million in program investments along with all room and event rental revenue for three months.

How badly do you think this has impacted the seniors and youth that use Center on Halsted?

Our youth and seniors are the most vulnerable communities. In this crisis, our homeless community is struggling the most as they have no place for shelter. Seniors who have many health issues and are living with limited financial resources have been struggling with food and isolation. COH has been able to provide healthy meals and groceries with the partnership of local restaurants like Lady Gregory and Chicago Greater Food Depository.

Have you done any new programs or meals that is pandemic related?

We have launched a grocery pop up center for seniors and community members supported by donations from the community.

Is there a way people can volunteer to help at Center on Halsted?

Yes, please consider volunteering, making a cash donation, and/or donating nonperishables.

Once the city opens, what impacts will the social distancing have on Center on Halsted?

The Center takes great pride in building community with programming and events. When the Center opens, we will have to change the way we do business by limiting the number of people who gather in spaces and ensuring patrons and staff are practicing social distancing.

Is there a place online that people can donate to Center on Halsted?

https://www.centeronhalsted.org/donate.html

I also wanted to share the transcript from a video that Modesto “Tico” Valle did after the 30 days of sheltering in place.

Hello Everyone, I am Tico Valle, CEO of Center on Halsted.

Today has been more then, 30 days since the Center staff has moved to shelter in place.

30 Days of our hallways empty from children running to play in the family space;

Our gym missing the sounds of athletes striving for victory;

Therapy suites absent the voices of community;

And, the sound of music gone from our theater.

Yes, it is quiet here at Center on Halsted but community is not just a building. It is you and I caring and supporting each other in times of need.

Our staff have been working hard from their homes to continue what they do best – caring for our community.

They are answering calls through the State of Illinois HIV, AIDS, and STD hotline and through the City’s HIV Resources HUB, providing the most current information, for people in need of shelter, testing sites, human connection from the fear and anxiety of COVID 19, and so much more.

Our Behavioral Health and Anti-violence teams have been connecting with individuals via telehealth, and in some cases face-to-face on issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, hate crimes, loneliness, and even helping with the mourning the loss of a loved one.

Youth and Senior staff have been clothing, feeding, and comforting our youth and seniors.

And, you our donors, volunteers, patrons, our community, has stepped forward to care for each other as we did during the AIDS pandemic.

Food, hygiene, and clothing drives have taken place all over the city for our most vulnerable. Meals and groceries are being delivered to our seniors.

Yes our building is closed but the staff is hard at work serving hundreds of community members to ensure they remain safe and healthy every day.

Through the support of our current and new donors we are able to continue to advance and build a healthy and vibrant community.

We have had to make hard decisions including layoffs, furloughing staff, and reducing every expense possible.

These are times that no text book or class could ever prepare you for.

But I have faith that we will come out stronger in the end.

We taught the world once how to take care of our own.

Today we are called to do so again. This time we all stand on the same side of justice.

As Gandhi has said,

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Continue to give, to care for yourself, your loved ones and even those we don’t know.
History will once again judge us as a caring community.

And please consider making a gift today at centeronhalsted.org.

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By Billy Gubrud. Created on May 5, 2020. Updated Oct. 26, 2020. From Non-profit.

About the Author

Billy has been working in LGBT media in Chicago for over 20 years. In 2000, Billy secured an advertising contract with the Chicago Cubs, making them the first professional sports team to advertise in an LGBT publication, and solidifying the team as a staple in the Chicago LGBT community. The following year, he founded and organized the first-ever recognized Gay Day sporting event in the world, Out at the Ballgame (now branded Out at Wrigley, and still organized by Billy and MTM). Out at Wrigley is now entering its 20th year!

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