RSVP today for LifeLong’s legendary end of year party Thursday, December 14th at Craneway Pavillion in Richmond. Festivities will begin at 6:30pm, featuring festive food, drinks, and raffles. Music and dancing with DJ Freddie. With apologies, due to space and fiscal constraints, attendance is limited to LifeLong Medical Care employees only. For planning purposes, RSVPs are required by Thursday, December 7th.
By Damali Roberts, DEIB Director
Dear LifeLong Staff,
From time to time, I’ll be reaching out with my reflections about significant things happening in the world around us. I’m planning to focus on events that are connected to public health, health disparities, or social justice more broadly. I’m also planning to focus on events that impact our staff and patient populations. The war and violence taking place in the world right now have public health implications, and, undoubtedly, are having an impact on you. With all that in mind, I would like to share my first written reflection. I’m also planning a gathering to process what we’re feeling together and have included a list of resources at the end of this email.
Here’s my reflection on the war, conflicts, and violence taking place in the world…
There’s no way around it, we are witnessing an unprecedented rise in war, conflicts, and violence in our communities and in the global community. We are seeing war erupting in places like Israel and Palestine, Eastern Congo, and the Ukraine; we are seeing mass shootings in places like Maine, and community violence close to home in the Bay Area. In the last few months alone, thousands of people have been killed and thousands more have been left behind to grieve. Many of you have been watching the bloodshed through the headlines and social media, and some of you have been directly impacted. We also realize that many of you, and your families, are connected to communities being impacted by violence. Given all that’s happening, I want to say very clearly, ‘It’s OK not to be OK.’
As a community-based healthcare provider, we understand that witnessing and experiencing violence is traumatic. We know that war and violence have collateral consequences that aren’t always named and talked about. We understand trauma affects every area of your life, including work and the ways you show up in this space with your colleagues and patients. Even when this violence is far removed from your daily reality, it may still be present in multiple ways. Because we know that this violence takes a toll, the question I’ve started to ask here at LifeLong is, ‘how can we be gentle with ourselves?’
There’s no way to live in the world without feeling. Each time we read a headline, scroll through our newsfeed, or see an image of a child dying, we feel it deeply. If you have loved ones or communities in places experiencing war or violence, each time the phone rings or a WhatsApp message comes in (or doesn’t come in), you feel it personally. We understand the range of feelings and traumas being experienced AND we are here to support you through it.
At LifeLong, we are a diverse mix of people from across identities (I.e., race and ethnicities, socio-political beliefs, immigration statuses, sexual and gender identities, etc…) who are also connected by our shared humanity. It is from this place of our shared humanity that we offer these words of acknowledgement and resources for you to explore.
If you would like to learn more about the some of the wars and conflicts across the globe, about some of the ways some communities are supporting one another through it, or if you’d like to find ways to support yourself with the grief and feelings that are coming up, I’m including a list of resources:
I just wanted to send a very brief note wishing you a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your family and friends. Please relax and enjoy your time with the ones you love!
Thank you for all you do and for all of the amazing care you give to the communities we serve; your commitment and your impact is remarkable.
David B. Vliet, MBA
Chief Executive Officer
By Damali Robertson, Director of DEIB
It’s Native American Heritage Month. LifeLong offices and clinics are located on the lands of the Miwok, Ohlone, Muwekma, Chochenyo, the Karkin, and the Confederated Villages of the Lisjan people. There are more than 150 federally recognized and self-identified tribes across California. More than 18,000 Native American people live in the Bay Area. At LifeLong, we serve Native American patients and employ Native American staff. That is why it feels important to celebrate Native American people and cultures this month. That is also the reason we seek to honor Native American people and their land every day, as we do the work to become more equitable.
I joined LifeLong in September 2023 and recognized right away that we needed to draft an organization-wide land acknowledgement. To that end, I recently began working on a first draft. The first draft is simple. Here it is. However, once the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee begins its work in the new year, I would like to finalize this draft and have it adopted across the organization.
If your office, department, or clinic isn’t already in the practice of saying a land acknowledgement before meetings, gatherings, and events, I invite you to begin thinking about it. You can take a look at my existing draft and adapt it, as needed. You can also take a look at another example of a land and labor acknowledgment written by Contra Costa County’s Office of Racial and Social Justice, here. If you need support thinking about it, please reach out. I will make the DEIB committee’s land acknowledgement available in the new year.
By Damali Robertson, Director of DEIB
Transgender Awareness Week happens each year in November. It is a week of awareness and celebration (Nov. 13th-20th) that leads into Transgender Day of Remembrance.* As Director of DEIB at LifeLong, I am writing to lift up transgender, nonbinary, and two-spirit people and their contributions within our community. I’m also sharing what I’ve learned from LifeLong’s Transgender, Nonbinary, and Two Spirit Working Group and centering the joys and resilience that comes with being transgender, nonbinary, and two-spirit.
After being at LifeLong for just over two months, I can already see the ways transgender, nonbinary, and two-spirit staff are essential to the patient-centered care we deliver. LifeLong was founded on social justice principles, to serve traditionally marginalized and disenfranchised people, and because of that, we are always striving to align our practices with our values. In the context of the United States, transgender, nonbinary, and two-spirit people experience disenfranchisement in multiple ways – that experience can show in organizations like ours. To that end, The Transgender, Nonbinary, and Two-Spirit Working Group was formed many years ago to ensure that LifeLong lives up to its founding commitments.
The Transgender, Nonbinary, and Two Spirit Working Group meets monthly and recently developed a charter to formalize and guide its work. In the coming year, I will collaborate with the working group to ensure LifeLong becomes more equitable in practice. As part of our plans to collaborate more closely, I met with the working group last week and shared that I’d be writing this piece.
I told them that I’d planned to write about the anti-transgender legislation sweeping the country; about all the reasons we need to continue to raise awareness (i.e., because they are still being mis-gendered or dead-named). The working group appreciated my ideas and attempt at allyship, however, they also offered me a few things to think about:
- The working group asked me why I hadn’t asked someone who identifies as transgender, nonbinary, or two-spirit to write this piece. I quickly remembered that allies can do a better job of insisting the people closest to the experience write and speak to their own experiences. I promised to rectify that next time around.
- The working group shared that there is so much more to being transgender, nonbinary, and two-spirit than fighting unjust legislation, etc. Instead, they reminded me that it would be equally important (perhaps even more important) to write about trans joy and trans resilience.
- The working group also told me that LifeLong provides crucial services to the trans community and that trans patients love LifeLong because of the open and affirming spaces we continue to create. One working group member even said, “LifeLong contributes to Gender Euphoria by caring for trans patients.”
The conversation reminded me that we can be better allies, that LifeLong is an open and affirming space for our trans patients (even though it can get better). And perhaps most importantly the conversation reminded me that, there’s joy in being completely yourself; there’s a celebratory quality in being “tough yet soft.”
Throughout the year we will continue to celebrate and remember our transgender, nonbinary, and two-spirit staff, patients, family, and friends.
Throughout the year, we grieve the transgender, nonbinary, and two-spirit people who have been killed in the past year.
* “Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) was founded in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated the one-year anniversary of Hester’s death and all the transgender people lost to violence that year.” Trans Day of Remembrance continues to memorialize people who have been killed because of anti-transgender acts of violence. We grieve the transgender, nonbinary, and two-spirit people who have been killed in the past year.
Congratulations to all who joined the Berkeley Half Marathon on November 19, where 30+ LifeLong staff ran or walked the Berkeley Half Marathon. It was an exceptionally beautiful, crisp fall day with tons of sunshine. LifeLong staff represented by doing something fun and good for their health while also giving back to the Berkeley Education Fund.
Intranet picture from left to right: Kelley Stewart, Kate Lewis, Julie Sinai, Carrie Cangelosi.