I am not going to sugar coat it — this year has been incredibly rough on all of us. At its core, the theme has been isolation – we cannot gather together as we have in years past, and at no time is that more evident than in the holiday season. Everyone is struggling, because human beings need a connection to one another, particularly in times of crisis and stress. Not only does being with other people soothe our souls, but it is how we get information and learn.
This has been an incredibly challenging time to be a Supervisor. Now, when people need information more than ever, it is harder and harder to reach them. Beginning in October, with the help of my wonderful staff, my office launched both Conversations for Survivors focusing on those impacted by the Glass Fire, and Charla Comunitaria COVID-19 as part of outreach and education efforts to decrease COVID-19 transmission within our Latinx community.
Our Conversations for Survivors series runs each first and third Thursday via Zoom. We broadcast these live on my Facebook page, and archive them on Youtube. The format consists of brief presentations, followed by live questions from attendees who have lost their homes or businesses.
Our last meeting of the year will focus on mental health and trauma, and will feature both mental health professionals as well as practical tips and strategies from some of our 2017 fire survivors.
We know that COVID-19 has affected every one of us, but those most vulnerable among us, particularly our Latinx friends and neighbors, have borne the disproportionate brunt of this virus. There is plenty of information aimed at this population from the County, health care providers, and other organizations, but much of it wasn’t making it into the heart of the community.
This is why we launched the all-Spanish Charla Comunitaria COVID-19 virtual conversation, which takes place on the second and fourth Thursday on Zoom with simultaneous broadcast on my Facebook page and a one-hour summary repeat on Azteca TV 50 Spanish network. During the live broadcast, community members are able to ask questions and receive immediate answers.
We invited Bay Area celebrity Juan Barragan of Azteca TV to host and facilitate the conversation alongside my bilingual staff member Karina Garcia. Juan Barragan brings well-received credibility, professionalism, and connection with the Latinx community. Each Charla offers information and resources in Spanish from faces and names our community members recognize and identify with. Panelists include community organizations, health and financial partners, and county staff from various departments, as well as local business owners and other community members who have shared their COVID survival experiences.
We have featured presentations from CURA Project, La Luz, the Sonoma Valley Community Health Center, the Sonoma County Department of Health Services, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department, and the Sonoma County Economic Development Board. Upcoming topics include safe workplaces, legal support, mental health, families and children, and a roadmap to recovery.
As this year draws to a close, it is tempting to reflect on all that we have lost. But there is hope. Building community in unexpected ways, and reaching people who have never been reached before, is something to be thankful for, even in these dark times. In the New Year, may we honor what we have lost, and use these new connections as a foundation to build a better, more accessible and equitable community in 2021.
To view past Conversations for Fire Survivor and Charla Comunitaria videos, visit Supervisor Gorin’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/susangorin1st
For more information about the Conversations for Fire Survivors events and to join Supervisor Gorin’s Fire Survivors e-mail list, contact Field Representative Arielle Kubu-Jones at [email protected]
For more information about the Charla Comunitaria events, contact Board of Supervisors Aide Karina Garcia at [email protected]