April 2021
Marin Pride 2021 -- Celebrating Community!
SAVE THE DATE: Saturday June 20, 12-2pm!

It is about time we had an opportunity to join together once again to celebrate our pride as LGBTQ+ people and allies. The Spahr Center is planning an in-person Marin Pride Celebration on Saturday, June 20. This outdoor event will only happen if it is safe to do so at the time. If it is not, we will hold an event by Zoom. Either way, we hope you will set this time aside to enjoy being together, honor local leaders who have been instrumental to securing our place in the Marin, hear some inspirational words, and enjoy some live music.  

We will keep Spahrkle readers well informed about our plans, so that you know exactly how to participate! Anyone interested is volunteering to help produce this event is welcome to contact dvangorder@thespahrcenter.org!
Implementation of Our Strategic Plan is Well Underway -- An Update
In November, The Spahr Center released a strategic plan to guide the development of its programs from 2021-25. The document, titled Raising the Bar on Our Future responded to the needs and aspirations of 150 individuals who informed its development. It committed the agency to 15 initiatives to strengthen the community, increase wellness for LGBTQ+ and HIV people, and create a more supportive Marin. The plan can be read at www.thespahrcenter.org.

For 2021, The Spahr Center’s Board and staff prioritized 7 of the initiatives for implementation. We wanted to provide a brief report on how we’re doing!

Leverage community partnerships to establish a Transgender Health & Wellness Clinic; and Establish Case Management services that connect LGBTQ+ people with essential support services.

We have conducted research about models in other counties for establishing a Transgender Clinic, assessed gaps in services available in Marin, and determined what Marin’s clinic should provide by way of health and social services. Dr. Jei Africa, the County’s Director of Behavioral Health, who started a similar clinic in San Mateo County, is convening a meeting later this month with multiple public and private agencies to discuss initial steps in planning for a clinic. We thank him for his support to realize this vision. We are also organizing meetings with Marin Community Clinic and UCSF’s transgender health department to understand their current partnership and what might be possible in the future. 

While The Spahr Center is most frequently asked to provide case management for transgender people, we plan to combine case management for all LGBTQ+ people. We are currently identifying existing providers in Marin to compile a network of culturally competent health, wellness, and support services. This will ultimately be available in an online resource guide and will allow us to make referrals to providers who will effectively serve our community. 

Establish a space that serves as a focal point for LGBTQ+ and HIV community connection and expression, with expanded social and cultural events, support groups, and volunteer opportunities.

The Spahr Center’s lease on its current office ends on November 30 of this year. It’s a good thing. With growth in our programs and services, we are bursting at the seams. We additionally do not have the drop in, meeting and event spaces that would transform us from a set of offices into a community center. And so...the search for a new space has begun! You will be hearing much from us about how you can help us move from merely having offices to having a real home for our community. 

Ensure that planning, delivery and evaluation of The Spahr Center’s programs and services prioritize racial equity and the leadership of LGBTQ+ people of color.

The Spahr Center’s staff is beginning to develop the agency’s comprehensive work plan for the next fiscal year, which starts on July 1, 2021. A specific element of that process includes the development of an initiative starting in July to implement this important priority. Additionally, we are recruiting a more diverse set of members of our Board of Directors, and prioritizing the hiring of additional Black, Indigenous and People of Color to our growing staff.

Build a Friendly Visitors program to increase social support for LGBTQ Seniors.

With funding from the Board of Supervisors and Horizon’s Foundation, this program is underway. We are actively recruiting volunteer visitors (see our related story below), conducting outreach to senior care facilities to identify individuals seeking to connect with our services, and conducting visits with a small number of seniors, Please consider becoming a volunteer Visitor and help us to grow this important program!

Provide services to address inequities in viral suppression and in new cases of HIV infection among Latinx and African-American people.

In January, The Spahr Center hired Jay Campos as our Bilingual HIV Prevention Navigator, and he is now hard at work conducting community outreach to expand our HIV testing efforts and to increase the number of sexually active people at risk for HIV infection who are taking PrEP - a once daily pill that prevents infection. Jay’s work is focused on young Latino and African American gay and bisexual men. We have also started a new program that makes it possible for us to do all of the bloodwork necessary to evaluate a client for PrEP, prescribe and deliver medications to make it super easy to start this highly effective prevention and intervention. We are very excited about the potential of this program to meet our goal of achieving zero new HIV infections in Marin (there were 17 in 2020) within a decade.

Develop a Safe Schools model for LGBTQ+ inclusion, equity, and safety in schools.

Led by Fel Agrelius, our great social welfare intern Rori Sante, and the members of our Youth Advocacy Coalition (YAC), this work is well underway! The Spahr Center recently launched a Toolkit that supports individual educators to understand the needs of their LGBTQ+ students and be strong allies and advocates for them. It is now being widely distributed throughout the county. YAC members are currently meeting with their principals and school administrators to discuss site specific requests for how to strengthen curriculum and school culture in order to make them more supportive of LGBTQ+ youth. As Covid restrictions ease, we look forward to resuming the Allyship Trainings we have conducted for over 1,500 educators in recent years. 

We will keep Spahrkle readers well-informed about continuing progress on Raising The Bar on our Future, and welcome questions and support for our work. Please feel free to contact Dana Van Gorder at dvangorder@thespahrcenter.org.
Volunteer for Our Friendly Visitor Program for LGBTQ+ Seniors
The Spahr Center has launched a Friendly Visitor program that matches volunteers with LGBTQ+ seniors eager for a connection to others. Many of the participating seniors are living in residential care or skilled nursing facilities where they have little contact with other LGBTQ+ people, and might even feel a need to be closeted. 

Our staff will provide thorough training about how to be a Friendly Visitor (it’s not hard at all), and volunteers only need to commit to 1 to 3 hours a week to support an LGBTQ+ senior. 

For more information, or to sign up, please email Kathrine Cowan, our Friendly Visitor Program Coordinator, at kcowan@thespahrcenter.org.
A Reminder to San Rafael Residents: A Special Election is Being Held on May 4
Key dates are coming up in a May 4 special election for residents living within the San Rafael City High School District and the San Rafael City Elementary School District. This is an all vote-by-mail election; no polling places will be open except for the Marin County Elections Department at the Civic Center in San Rafael, Suite 121.

Voters in the high school district will be voting yes or no on Measure G and voters in the elementary school district will be voting yes or no on Measure. Both measures determine the amount of a special tax for educational programs, and require two-thirds of the votes cast to pass. 

All registered voters within the districts will receive a postage-paid envelope along with their ballot and must remember to sign the envelope before mailing it back. Also, the ballot envelope must be postmarked on or before Election Day or it won’t count.

For more information, call 415-473-6456, or go to www.marinvotes.org.
Thank You, Wing, and All of Our Generous Donors to the Red Envelope Campaign
To raise funds in support of The Spahr Center’s senior programming, beloved community member Wing Wong and leadership of the North Bay Senior Social Committee launched a Red Envelope campaign in February of this year. In Chinese culture, a red envelope is a monetary gift given during holidays or special occasions such as the New Year. Wing agreed to match donations up to $500.00. 

Our deep gratitude to the donors to this campaign, which raised $3,000! They include Debbie and Terry Alcouloumre-Caldwell (honoring Wing Wong), Mickey Anderson (in honor of Scooter), Julie Beach, Will Boemer, Jon Edwards, Marie Eisen, Jack Gardner, Doug Heaps (honoring the Social Committee) Sherry Holmes, Beverly Mauck, Kathryn McMudie, Lolma Olson (honoring Debbie Alcouloumre for her leadership of the Social Committee), Tootie Ozier, Dana Van Gorder, and two anonymous donors. 

Gifts in support of the seniors programs of The Spahr Center are still welcome. To donate, visit www.thespahrcenter.org/donate.
Grandparents of Transgender Youth Group Has Started
Estate Planning
The Spahr Center is honored from time to time to be identified as a beneficiary of the estates of its donors and supporters. If you are preparing or revising estate documents, we welcome you to give thought to a legacy gift to support our lifesaving and life affirming programs.

We are able to connect you with professionals skilled at estate planning and philanthropy to let you know how to build giving into your will or trust. For information, please contact Dana Van Gorder at dvangorder@thespahrcenter.org.