Local Nonprofit Celebrates LGBTQ Caregivers with Pride
Dunedin’s LGBTQ Caregiver Center proudly celebrates it’s one year anniversary. The Caregiver Center is an initiative that was launched in June 2021 as part of Dunedin based nonprofit, Caregiver Wellness Collective Inc. which aims to provide education, support, and services to improve caregiver health and well-being. A caregiver is someone who provides care for another person in need of assistance and support due to illness, injury, or disability. Founder, Jennifer Henius LCSW explains, “I created the nonprofit at the onset of COVID-19 to improve access to holistic wellness practices such as yoga and meditation to at-risk caregivers.”
Jennifer is a long-distance caregiver and social worker who has worked with Veterans, their families, and caregivers nearly 20 years. She is a recognized caregiver advocate, and the founder of Yoga4Caregivers. In 2021, she successfully advocated for the City of Dunedin to become a designated “Hidden Heroes City” in partnership with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, in support of the more than 5 million US Military and Veteran caregivers, with many based here in Tampa Bay. “The pandemic has worsened the challenges that caregivers already face including social isolation and poor mental health. We need our community to step up and support them, but we also need to recognize that our caregiver population is diverse with unique needs”, says Jennifer.
The LGBTQ Caregiver Center was co-founded with Zander Keig, LCSW who is a proud trans man and Veteran of the US Coast Guard who provides care for his Veteran father, who is diagnosed with dementia. Zander knows the unique experiences and challenges of caregiving in the LGBTQ community firsthand. Zander explains, “It’s important for us share our caregiving story so that others know they are not alone. Our community needs access to culturally competent caregiver support services, and we hope we can bridge LGBTQ caregivers to trusted resources.”
Still in its infancy, the LGBTQ Caregiver Center serves as an online resource hub, offers cultural competency training, and connects caregivers to important research studies that aim to better understand the unique needs and challenges of LGBTQ caregivers. The Center also offers an online LGBTQ Caregiver peer support group, holds webinars with expert speakers and engages with the community to raise awareness about issues and concerns. Zander and Jennifer are hopeful they will be able to raise funds and in-kind support to build a robust online directory.
To learn more about the LGBTQ Caregiver Center and to volunteer or donate visit www.lgbtqcaregivers.org