The Center Adapts Programming

Keeping the LGBTQ+ Community Engaged in the Age of COVID-19

By Clair Koetitz

The LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada (The Center) is a community-based organization, that supports and promotes activities directed at furthering the well-being, positive image, and human rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, two-spirit, and queer community, its allies, and low to moderate income residents in Southern Nevada.

For nearly 30 years The Center has risen to the challenge of meeting the ever-changing needs of the LGBTQ+ community of Southern Nevada. In 2020, that included a near overnight adaptation of programming to continue serving the community in a global pandemic.

Aptly named, The Online Center is a vital resource for the Southern Nevada LGBTQ+ community, during the COVID-19 health crisis. “We had to adapt programming across the board to keep the community engaged,” said Youth Programs Manager & Prep Coordinator AJ Huth.

Youth programming experienced a reasonably smooth transition to the virtual environment. The QVirtual online program is conducted via Zoom and the Center’s Discord server for youth ages 13 – 24. The intent is to keep youth who regularly attend in-person programming connected to support services.

“Our Youth Program easily transitioned to engagement online and via social media when the pandemic hit,” said Huth. “Our Youth Resource Specialist, Ashante Herring, quickly shifted to incorporating Instagram and Facebook Live functions to keep our LGBTQ+ youth involved during this difficult time.”

The Center was also able to continue its Center Advocacy Network (CAN) program to support victims of crime in a virtual environment. Victim advocates provide confidential and non-judgmental support, education, resources, & referrals to on and off campus entities following experiences of interpersonal violence.

“We have had to completely re-imagine how we deliver our services,” said Huth. “Helping clients file a protection order, calling a social service on behalf of a client, helping a family member or partner of a victim/survivor find resources: these are examples of advocacy that shifted online.”

According The Center’s website, The Center Advocacy Network makes history as one of two advocacy training programs in Nevada and the only advocacy program in the United States to focus on LGBTQ issues. CAN provides comprehensive LGBTQIA+ advocacy training in 12 meaningful sessions, 1 day per week for 6 weeks. Training sessions and materials are free to all attendees.

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The LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada is also working in partnership with other non-profit organizations and restaurants across Las Vegas Valley to ensure that vulnerable members of our community can access food during the global pandemic. Delivering with Dignity is a solution that offers a non- physical contact delivery of essential food where the most vulnerable are safest—at home.

Delivering With Dignity service is intended for people struggling financially on a day-to-day basis and who are most at risk according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control guidelines for contracting Coronavirus if they leave their homes. This includes people who are elderly, underlying medical conditions, and their family members living in the same household. Organizers are working with nonprofit organizations in the community, including The Center to identify and provide service to the entire population in-need in the Las Vegas Valley.

Q Virtual
Las Vegas PRIDE Magazine - Issue 32

This article was originally published in the Womxn’s Issue of Las Vegas PRIDE Magazine, and can be read in its original format here.