An Update From GRIOT Circle on COVID-19

Dear GRIOT Circle Community

We hope that everyone is healthy and safe, and are in a space of hope as we, and other global citizens, learn how to cope with this difficult time in our lives.
This is perhaps the most challenging period in our professional lives. Those of us that work in the helping profession know too well that our personal and organizational missions are to improve the lives of others. It is what we do on a daily basis. The staff, volunteers, and board at GRIOT serve a population that is economically vulnerable. LGBTQ elders of color cope with significant disparities across areas related to physical and mental health, including depression, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and HIV/AIDS. Because our members are amongst the most vulnerable, how we as an organization approach this pandemic is critically important. Many of our elders live alone and consider GRIOT “home.” Despite these challenges GRIOT’s older adults pride themselves on their resilience and caring support for one another. It is what we promote within our programs and services. It is woven in the fabric of our organizational culture.

Many of us are asking “what can I do to help at this time?”

We at GRIOT are asking you to please take care of yourselves and families, to check on your neighbors, particularly seniors, to the extent possible, and to be kind, and patient with each other. Our collective positive, hopeful, calm energies and vibrations during this time, we believe, will contribute to all of us managing and coping with this period in the most productive way possible.
Our internal strategies and contingency plans have been swift, but calculated, as we operate with the understanding that we must protect members and staff, and respect social (physical) distancing measures to help avert this virus.
While the offices are temporarily closed, and the staff is working remotely, know that we are taking our close to 24 years working with LGBTQ older adults of color, and creating modalities to best serve our seniors during this difficult time. Below is what the staff is doing to make sure that our members are safe and have what they need:

  • Prior to closing the offices members were given gift cards to shop at the local supermarkets to help meet their nutritional needs. We intend to continue this practice during this pandemic as funds permit.
  • Staff contact the agency’s clients twice per week and assess for needs and provide them with local resources and information. The most vulnerable receive additional calls.
  • During these calls members are encouraged to contact the GRIOT office and leave a message if any emergencies or needs arise. Messages are checked by staff on a daily basis.
  • Provide emergency “grab and go” meals three times per week from the GRIOT office to all members that are able to pick them up.
  • Periodically mail members who request additional shelf stable boxed meals courtesy of Citymeals on Wheels.
  • Create and facilitate virtual programs that promote social connectedness. Activities include core GRIOT programs such as the women’s support group, Spanish 101, and the men’s sexual health group – among others. A sense of normalcy is key during this time.
  • Periodically update the organization’s social media handles and providing our members with updates.
  • Staff is having twice-daily virtual meetings to talk about emerging trends related to the virus, and discussing and updating our contingency plan as needed.
  • Liaising with other aging organizations and community based organizations (CBO)’s to share best practices, ideas, and contingency plans.

Additional Resources
Citymeals on Wheels (212-687-1234)

God’s Love We Deliver (212-294-8100)

For guidance on food access and other virus-related concerns call 311.

We apologize for this unavoidable disruption, particularly to those who depend on us most. Please know that we are doing everything in our power to ensure that you can connect with us remotely as we navigate this uncertain situation together, as the strong and resilient community that we are.