The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has affected our lives in ways we never imagined. We have all had to adapt to what is now our new normal. Although there was so much chaos and uncertainty when the pandemic began, we knew our office had to stay open and operating at some capacity to serve the communities that need our help the most.
Beginning in March, we transitioned our therapy and medical services to phone and virtual format options. We began transitioning from medication pick-up to a delivery service. Most of our staff were asked to limit their time in the office in order to protect themselves and others. The only consistency that remained was our Executive Director Yoshiaki Yamasaki and Health Department Liaison Deja Alvarez coming into the office every day.
Yoshiaki continued to provide therapy over the phone and discovered that many of our clients had lost their jobs, had family members who had fallen ill and were soon running out of food. Around the same time, Deja received a box of groceries from her friend, Pennsylvania State Representative Brian Sims. The grocery box she received inspired her to find a way to get food out to our clients with the most need.
Deja began by putting her idea out into the social media universe and asking for donations. Thanks to the generosity of so many of you, we were able to begin sending out grocery store gift cards to those in need. Soon after hearing about the program, many others reached out to donate their time and resources in order to help organize food packages to deliver to families. The families we serve are predominantly immigrants, many of whom are undocumented and will not get access to unemployment benefits or stimulus checks. They are hard-working people that contribute to our community in many ways and have faced extreme difficulties during the pandemic.
Thanks to your extreme generosity, we can now report that over 200 families and counting have been helped! Many of you have donated your time, money, and resources to change the lives of others in Philadelphia. We cannot thank you enough. You inspire us to keep going and doing the work that we do.
If you would like to donate to our food program, you can do so here on our website, or through Deja Alvarez at CashApp: $dejalynn or Venmo: @dejalynn-alvarez.
You can read more about Deja Alvarez and WHCI's COVID-19 food program in the Philadelphia Gay News article here
With love from afar,