As we ride the waves of this pandemic, API Chaya and many other organizations have been trying to figure out ways to best serve their communities’ needs. “We want to figure out the best ways the community can be connected to us,” said Lourdez Velasco, the Queer Network Program (QNP) organizer at API Chaya. Working in the same organization that helped ground them in their identity, Velasco has been in this role for over two years now, serving others in the QTBIPOC community and is now leading QNP’s efforts amidst the pandemic and social distancing challenges.

Within the Queer Network Program, they have been working to provide safe spaces in virtual ways for people to still come together. Last month, they hosted a series of webinars in collaboration with other local organizations. During these sessions, people within the QTBIPOC community came together and talked about their fears and hopes during this time of COVID. 

“Knowing that things will never go back to the normal life before COVID, what does that look like for us?” said Velasco. “What can we do to make it sustainable for us to move towards the world that we actually imagine and dream of?”

Since the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, there has been an increasing number of domestic violence cases. Thus, API Chaya and many other community organizations have been trying to support survivors in their times of weakness by providing financial and housing assistance. API Chaya recongizes that not  everyone has access to technology or the Internet, so they are also thinking about how their resources can be more accessible to people. And while they are continuing facilitating training sessions for survivor leadership, they have also been gathering resources and reallocating funds to support people that are struggling in their respective communities.

Valesco shared a COVID-19 resource kit that they created; a document that includes a wide spectrum of resources that are collected by and for the community. “A lot of our community organizers are definitely in full swing,” Velasco said, “bringing and mobilizing people together, and also bringing skills to create more spaces that provide healing and joy, or spaces to process grief and emotions.” The long and detailed document is full of community resources to help people through this pandemic. Whether its local businesses, artists or other community organizations, people are eagerly joining forces to support one another, either through volunteering, making monetary donations or providing other types of skill contributions.

On Saturday, on April 25, API Chaya hosted a virtual gala celebrating their 25 years of work. As API Chaya continues to support survivors and members of the API community, this year, they will be making individual donations to support their fund that supports their ability to maintain their programs and services. Although this was their first time hosting the gala online, they are excited to celebrate API Chaya’s growth as well as the entire community’s efforts in empowering the survivors. “This is a good way for people to learn about us and support the work that we do,” said Velasco.

You can watch videos from the gala that showcase 25 years of API Chaya and also make a donation here: https://www.apichaya.org/gala-2020

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