The OutCenter of Southwest Michigan is asking everyone to help stop any spread of COVID-19 across our service area of Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren Counties.

To find important information about this, please visit the Berrien County Health Department’s page about COVID-19.

The staff and Board consider personal health and safety as fundamental characteristics of a vibrant community. We also understand you may have growing concerns about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Please only consult trusted and vetted sources about this virus.

In reports from across the country, LGBTQ+ people also remain more at risk due to these factors:

  • The LGBTQ+ population uses tobacco at rates that are 50% higher than the general population. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that has proven particularly harmful to smokers.
  • The LGBTQ+ population has higher rates of HIV and cancer, which means a greater number of us may have compromised immune systems, leaving us more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections.
  • LGBTQ+ people continue to experience discrimination, unwelcoming attitudes, and lack of understanding from providers and staff in many health care settings, and as a result, many are reluctant to seek medical care except in situations that feel urgent – and perhaps not even then.
  • LGBTQ+ Seniors are a large segment of our community and are at greater risk due to the above factors and their age.

For information from the Fenway Institute regarding Coronavirus, COVID-19, and Considerations for People Living with HIV and LGBTQIA+ People please see this document.

We are closely monitoring updates from the Berrien County Health Department, Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization regarding COVID-19. We will continue to follow guidance from these agencies and public health officials.

Currently, our physical location is closed to the public however, we are still providing ALL the programs and services that our communities have come to expect or even rely on. Our phone number will route you to appropriate staff, the drop-in center will offer a virtual presence, and programs will be hosted remotely.

To join remotely:

  1. Download the Google Hangouts Meet app on your phone or computer.
  2. Then go to the OutCenter website calendar page.
  3. Select “See more details” under the program session scheduled.
  4. Next to “Joining info” select the “https” link and you will be added to the session.
  5. Or without video, simply dial the following number and enter the following PIN and # listed for that session.

NOTE: OutCenter’s Google Hangouts and Meet App are HIPAA Compliant.

Of course as a small non-profit, operationally, we rely entirely on the support of our donors. We understand that during times like these both businesses and individual households are more conservative financially. If you are able to provide support, please do so on our secure platform.

Community Resources Available

River Valley School District Distribution Sites & Times:

  • Trinity Lutheran Church, Sawyer: 11:00 – 11:30 a.m.
  • New Troy Community Center: 11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
  • Galien Township Public Library: 12:30 – 1:00 p.m.
  • Three Oaks Elementary School: 1:15 – 1:45 p.m.

Breakfast and lunch packs will be provided free of charge to anyone, regardless of district, 18 years of age and under; adults pay $1 for breakfast, $2 for lunch. No dine-in; drive-by/pick up only.

In addition, children enrolled in Blessings in a Backpack at River Valley will have access to their weekend food packs each Friday, March 20 through April 3, at the designated River Valley School District meal pick-up locations:

  • Trinity Lutheran Church, Sawyer: 11:00 – 11:30 a.m.
  • New Troy Community Center: 11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
  • Galien Township Public Library: 12:30 – 1:00 p.m.
  • Three Oaks Elementary School: 1:15 – 1:45 p.m.

At each of these locations on Fridays, families may drive up to collect not only the school’s breakfast and lunch packs, but also their Blessings in a Backpack weekend packs.

Please see the food distribution sites for children under the age of 18, as well as individuals with disabilities under the age of 26. Please feel free to share with your clients. I will send any updates as they come in.

Community Curated Support Links*

Financial Help

This is a one-stop site for answers to questions regarding food, financial assistance, unemployment resources, and help to pay utility bills, mortgages, property taxes, condominium association fees, and much more:

Utility Bills

Here is a link for assistance in paying your utility bills.

Food

Do you need help with food?

Feeding America can help. Mobile food pantries for all of western Michigan, including Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren Counties.

Eviction

Are you a renter being evicted? There is help! Visit this site to learn more.

Small Business/Nonprofits

Small businesses and nonprofit entities in Berrien County, Michigan, can find help at the Cornerstone Alliance site.

Rent/Mortgage

Do you need rent or mortgage relief? You can find assistance at Investopedia and MLPP.

LGBTQ

Do you have questions about COVID-19 and how it relates to the LGBTQ community? You can get some insight here.

Mental Health

Mental health questions can be answered here. You can get assistance finding local mental health resources during the pandemic here.

Pets

Do you have questions about your pet and COVID-19? You can find some answers here.

Student Loans

Find answers about paying your federal student loans here.

Personal Loans

Do you need a loan or loan relief? There is helpful information at MAUL and Nerdwallet.

Medication

Do you need help paying for medication? Check out MAT.org

The Elderly

Are you a caregiver for an older person and have concerns about COVID-19? Here are some guidelines.

*Community Curated Support Links were organized by OutCenter volunteers to direct members of the community who need support during the COVID-19 pandemic. The OutCenter has not vetted these resources and listing them on our site is not an endorsement of the publishing organization.

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