09 Jul Members share their thoughts about these extraordinary times
Margaret Humphrey, Uptown Clubhouse Member, Vail Board Member
Every day gets a little easier but it’s been tough, with COVID feeling isolated and disconnected from the world. For a while I was overwhelmed and couldn’t do anything. Now Zoom meetings have helped tremendously. At least twice a day you’re connecting with people and listening to people you haven’t seen for quite some time. It’s a big help. It feels good.
I’m proud, as a board member, of all the employees stepping up in the middle of a crisis and enthusiastically engaging in changes, basically overnight. The leadership team is doing an excellent job in coordinating everything in a short time. The Vail Uptown Clubhouse called me, and all members, and kept in contact with people and have connected with people we haven’t heard from in long time. And we’re doing online enrollment.
Vail Place is an extraordinary organization. We have an extremely good board and leadership. While other agencies have furloughed staff or closed, we’ve adapted quickly and are reaching out in new ways that we wouldn’t have thought of before. As a member, I feel so blessed to have found Vail Place.
And I’m excited about the new ways we’ve found to reach out to folks that we can continue to use after we reopen so we’ll be able to hear from people who can’t make it to the Clubhouses – maybe because their mental health is too bad and they can’t get out and about; or someone who’s convalescing and can now plug into meetings daily instead of feeling isolated or alone waiting to recover.
B.C., Uptown Clubhouse Member
I’m doing fair. I’m right in the middle. I wish I felt better, you know, but me being a black man with mental health issues, and other stuff it’s just kind of great to have Vail Place to turn to. I’m an older black man, 54, so I’ve seen a lot of things and I’ve seen what I can do better, and how Vail Place can do better and the whole system could be better.
I just want to have a better job, support, and I want to be able to walk down the street – walk to Vail Place Uptown. I want to be safe. I want to have friends that don’t all look like me. I don’t want to have all black friends; I don’t want to have all white friends….
I worked at all these stores, in Uptown, and you know all these places and not a lot of people who look like me around. And I think it’s because … I think it’s the system, the hiring process, the collaboration, the managers, the customers … maybe it’s the food. Maybe if they got African American food in their stores. Black vendors….
There’s something that we’re missing…. I’ve asked for Black Lives Matter signs. I’ve been talking to businesses in Uptown about hiring more black people. Uptown and downtown…. We are left out at a lot of places. I don’t know why that is….
I’m a good customer service person. I would love to work at store, be a cashier somewhere. … no more dish washing or bagging…. There’s nothing that’s available now because of the pandemic….
I volunteered at the Clubhouse for two or three years washing dishes…. Dale was a member – he died last year – who’d come into the Clubhouse in the early morning and we’d clean the bathrooms and do some dishes together. He was a person that I looked up to. He was like my role model. He showed up every time and he was a big advocate for all people, and inclusion. He supported me….
Before COVID I was going to the Clubhouse once a month, once a week…. I really haven’t been around a lot of people…. I’ve been taking this time to relax mind and body and sleep. I have an online class that I do trying to get my GED. That’s been more the focus.
I got invited for Zoom but I don’t want to do that right now. It’s too confusing for me to focus on more than five or six people. That’s too much focusing for me. I like to talk to one or two people. I can stay more focused that way. I have PTSD and I’m trying to get that under control still. I’ve had it all my life, so it comes up and then it goes away and then it comes back. Things don’t get done. I keep saying the same thing. It’s like a lot of people at Vail Place. A lot of my friends have the same kinds of issues I do. So I can see how they do and I say, “Hey, wait a minute, I’m the same way they are.” … I have anxiety about things and sometimes I got to turn it off and that’s hard to do. But I take medications for it….
I can’t really go out the way I used to go out. Maybe go to a restaurant and sit down for half an hour…. I just want more support. People are afraid to support somebody who is different. Don’t be afraid of somebody who has been abused or oppressed for a lot of years. People like me are grateful to have a phone call, a conversation. But I do want more. I want a house. I want to have friends who are white. I want to have friends who are Mexican, who are Asian. I want to have gay friends; I want to have straight friends. Someone else who’s elderly, who can’t help themselves, you know. My mother worked in hospitals all her life. She was a nursing assistant; worked in nutrition; helping older people. She took care of people. So I get that from my mother….
I want you to ask the members what they think about Black Lives Matter. Can you ask that question? That’s a question that people shouldn’t be afraid to ask. Just talk about that.
I’m sure people are upset about the riots or whatever. There’s something else going on that we have never talked about. We didn’t just start talking about this cause of George Floyd. This is something that we’ve always talked about. This has just brought us closer, made us closer to … more action. That’s what this has brought us to, more action. But please try to ask what they think, how they feel about Black Lives Matter.
I support Black Lives Matter. It’s about time. What’s going to happen 10 years from now? 20 years from now? The change, the sea change? They’re saying it’s the police department. It’s not just the police department. The change needs to be everywhere. We’ve got to change more than that.
Keith W., Uptown Clubhouse Member
I’ve been kind of trying to keep myself in a safe place because I know that if I go out in the community that I would have to actually be aware of what’s going on in my surroundings…
I’ve been kind of feeling reluctant, but I just try to keep up with everyday normal things and watch the news and see what’s going on around the city and other places. And I just kind of feel comfortable just being able to say I have a life and I have a home to live in, because lots of people don’t have that. And as far as the racial justice issue … you know I think that black people they actually are speaking up for themselves now and the racial issues are being addressed to other people in higher authority. So I think that it’s just a better way now of expressing people of color’s issues to other people so people can understand their values, as well as that person’s opinion….
I think Vail Place has been doing pretty well, because the staff have been there for the members and the members have been there to help the staff. It’s been a good contact source to Zoom. The staff is actually making it more comfortable for the members to be able to get assistance with the virtual Clubhouse…. I go to Zoom meetings once or twice a week on my phone. I go to the afternoon meeting and then I go to the newsletter meeting….
I miss doing some of the daily work routine at the Clubhouse and just dropping in to the employment meetings. I kind of miss it but it’s just an awakening for a person to be able to do something one day and then can’t do it the next day.