Niagara Pride hosting virtual presentations

Edwin J. Viera, Niagara Gazette, Niagara Falls, N.Y.
·3 min read

Feb. 18—Starting today, Niagara Pride is holding a series of community provider "Lunch and Learn" presentations. It's being done in lieu of the group's annual health fair, which has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each presentation will be held on the third Friday of every month from noon to 1 p.m. They are accessible through the group's Facebook page.

Today's presentation will have representatives from the Center for Elder Law and Justice; Niagara County Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; Community Health Center of Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Cheektowaga; and the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Niagara Falls.

Ronald Piaseczny, president of Niagara Pride, spoke about how the series came about.

"We have done a couple of health fairs in the past and with COVID-19, last year and still this year, we weren't able to do an in-person health fair," he said. "We didn't want to not have programming this year and not get that information out to individuals cause those were very successful events in the past. We thought, how can we modify and make it more accessible to individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic? But also put a little bit of a more personal twist on it, so that we would actually have multiple, once a month Zoom calls with only a couple providers so that it gives those providers the opportunity to highlight and showcase their services, especially any programming dedicated to the LGBTQ community."

Piaseczny added this will allow attendees to ask more questions and garner information relevant to their situation. He recognized there are some problems within the LGBTQ community related to a bevy of services. Some of the groups that will be speaking each week include Heart, Love, and Soul; Western Problem Gambling Resource Center; LGBT Veteran Care; Elderwood; Mental Health of Niagara County; etc. In doing this electronically, he felt this would allow people to uncover information about health, from angles one might not see in a traditional health fair.

Piaseczny is hoping this will be more than just a typical Zoom call, and will help people who need it. He described one of the presentations coming up in the series.

"We've partnered with Western Problem Gambling Resource, where they will be providing two different trainings, one in spring and one in fall," he said. "For the first one they will be presenting on, they will be doing a What is Problem Gambling 101 presentation. Even though it's geared more towards clinical staff and clinicians, the community is welcome to participate. One of the nice things about that is there are continuing education credits available for clinicians and it will be free of charge. We hope that will get some clinicians involved in problem gambling, and how that impacts Niagara County and the Western New York area."

Though the first presentation hasn't happened yet, the response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive, he said. Some people have expressed concerns about the time this will be held. However, the sessions will be recoded and uploaded to Niagara Pride's social media pages. Though the series is planned until August, Niagara Pride is looking for other community providers to hold a session during the fall and early winter.

The upcoming Lunch and Learn schedule:

—FEB. 27: (noon to 12:30 p.m. — Special session featuring youth providers GLYS Western New York, Inc.; Youth Link & Be PrEPared Programs

—MARCH 19: (noon to 1 p.m.) — Pride Center of WNY; Heart, Love and Soul; Horizon Health Services

—APRIL 16 (noon to 1 p.m.) — The Breast and Prostate Peer Education Program at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center; US Social Security Administration; Trans Health Care Services — Evergreen Health Services; Booker College Planning (a program designed to help students and families navigate the college admissions process)

—May 21 (noon to 1 p.m.) — Salvation Army of Niagara Falls; Western Problem Gambling Resource Center; Save the Michaels