Well, it’s three in the morning and I don’t actually want to be up. (I know, right?) It’s officially #GivingTuesdayNOW. In case you didn’t know, that’s today’s version of the Giving Tuesday that happens after Thanksgiving (right after #CyberMonday). It’s been a huge deal to the nonprofit community for the past few years and COVID-19 has provided the perfect opportunity to have (or establish) a second one during the year. It’s not just for COVID-19 relief or for non-profits providing direct services to COVID-19 patients. #GivingTuesdayNow is a day dedicated to helping out ALL non-profits, since a lot of the burden of holding up society in both supply and morale has fallen to them/us in the past several weeks. It comes at a cost. (In case you don’t feel like reading, my list of ideas for how you can help my group is here.)
The non-profit dearest to my heart is DBSA San Diego – the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance of San Diego. As many of you know, I’ve been a part of it for many years. DBSA San Diego at its core is a network of free peer-led support groups for people with any kind of mental health challenge (mental illness) and their family & friends. That means that groups for people with a diagnosis are run by a person with a diagnosis and family groups are run by a family member of a person with a diagnosis, and so on. In order to facilitate groups, those leaders first had to be active participants in the support groups for a minimum amount of time and be stable. Groups are held almost every day of the week all over the county with our home base and office/library being the VA in La Jolla. All groups are drop-in, no RSVP necessary, no copay, no limited number of visits and you don’t even have to tell us your real name. ;).
When the world started shutting down for COVID-19, we were given a courtesy call – 1.5 hours notice that we would be locked out of the VA and unable to hold groups there, or even get to our stuff, “indefinitely.” When I said I hardly believed the forever aspect of “indefinite,” I was told it wasn’t likely we’d be back. Since then I’ve been told we will NOT be kicked out of there for forever, but that doesn’t affect the impact it has on the groups and our people.
We continued meeting in person for as long as possible, missing only 2 days of meetings. A local pizza place helped us out with space (SUPER grateful to RoundTable) and after a LOT of research a small team of us rolled our meetings over onto Zoom, learning together, training others across the country. Despite my fighting it tooth and nail, all of our in-person locations folded. Some will not be coming back to life after the Quarantine is over. We are currently offering 6 Zoom groups per week, including one dedicated Family & Friends group. (schedule can be found on our Meetup group www.Meetup.com/DBSA-San-Diego)
As I watched org after org shut down their groups, close their doors, stop their services, I’d shout at my email and the tv. While others were bored out of their minds and learning to make banana bread while day-drinking in their sweats, we weren’t.
DBSA San Diego provides all support groups free of charge and has continued to provide support groups and crisis services throughout the pandemic. We have a saying in the La Jolla group that we really have lived up to. We say, “Mental illness doesn’t take a holiday and neither do we.” Indeed. Our outreach activities have been cancelled since there are no events in the community, but crisis support and advocacy are still happening. And support between members is as strong as ever. We are still saving lives. I pray it stays that way. I also pray for all the group members who don’t have a computer or internet connection, or don’t/cant for whatever reason get online for a Zoom meeting. We don’t collect information so there’s no way for us to reach out to everyone.
I don’t know what “re-opening” DBSA San Diego will look like. I know it will not be too soon. In the meantime, there is this pesky thing called #GivingTuesdayNow. As my inbox has filled for weeks with orgs asking for money and orgs telling us how to ask for money and when or whatever, I thought I might ask you. I don’t have it in me to make everything just the way it should be – to fix all the data and make pretty campaigns that are well thought-out and put together. I did have a little in me tonight though to piece together the different ways available for people to give to DBSA San Diego today. The easiest way of all is just to share this or share our services with someone who needs them. We at DBSA work incredible magic with very little.
DBSA San Diego is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization led by ALL volunteers and funded entirely through donations from people like you. (EIN 46-4731973) We do not receive state or federal grants or funding. 2019 was a really rough year for fundraising and we haven’t gotten to “pass the bag” in any meetings since the shutdown. We could really use your help!
Anything you can do is greatly appreciated. According to the how-to emails and webinars I’m supposed to draw on the fear and uncertainty of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 and these “unprecedented times.” I swear I HATE that word now. When it comes down to it, here’s the deal – DBSA San Diego is awesome. They are saving lives every night and every day and will continue to do so. Please help. Here is a good collection of ways you can help DBSA San Diego.
Thank you for caring.
PS – When you donate to DBSA San Diego, the funds STAY in San Diego. Make sure which DBSA you’re donating to before you give. ;)
© Michelle Routhieaux 2020