By Libby Smith

DENVER (CBS4)The Center for African American Health is among the community organizations that stepped up dramatically in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We really do our best to respond to community needs and requests,” said Deidre Johnson, Executive Director and CEO of the Center for African American Health. “We immediately took all of our programs virtual. We’ve actually been able to raise and distribute over $165,000 in emergency funds. We were helping people with food, rent, a lot of utility work, and prescriptions.”

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(credit Elevation Creation)

The Center also became a PPP staging ground and distribution point. It’s a community COVID testing site, distributed flu vaccine shots, and most recently became coronavirus vaccination site.

“It’s getting started and kind of making its way. It could have been a lot more organized. There’s so many lessons we learned this summer with having in community testing sites and I think, had our partners started with that vaccine wise, we’d be a little bit further ahead. But now everybody is very responsive, and very optimistic,” Johnson said of Colorado’s rollout of the vaccine.

LINK: Register for the Collaborative Black Health Summit

The Center for African American Health is holding its 19th annual Black Health Fair on February 26th and 27th, 2021. There will be 17 virtual session, including a keynote speech by Dr. Terri Richardson about COVID in the Black community.

“We has so many sessions requested that we had to close the door and stop it. We’re packed,” Johnson explained. “We’ve got a great menu for folks. It’s all about health and wellness, and keeping community safe.”

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There will also be sessions on mental health advice, and a legislative panel.

“We always like to have a bit of movement, so Mr. Charles will be joining us, and entertainment, Tony XM will be appearing Friday night for half-an-hour. And I was able to get our own Dianne Reeves to help us with the  opening Saturday morning. So even though people are tired of all this  online, it will be well worth everybody’s while.”

(credit Center for African American Health)

The new year is bringing new services to the Center for African American Health. In 2021, the Center is expanding its mental health offerings.

“With the generous support of the Caring for Denver Foundation, we actually received a grant to start providing services with our partner, Element of Discovery: Therapists of Color Collaborative. So we’ll be able to have the community come to us, we’ll do the screening and then refer them to a therapist of color.”

The grant money covers patients in Denver. Now the Center for African American Health will start fundraising to pay for these service to people along the Front Range.

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The Center for African American Health’s Collaborative Black Health Summit runs Friday, February 26th from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. & Saturday, February 27th from 9:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is free and open to the public. Registration is required.

Libby Smith