A Special Message from our Founder & CEO Dr. Pernessa C. Seele

A Special Message from our Founder & CEO Dr. Pernessa C. Seele

Dearest Family!

As my grandmother and the folks who raised me in Lincolnville, SC would say, “these are troubling times.” These are the days that speak not only to our faith, but to the detail threads that make up the fabric of our personal beliefs. Do we believe the coronavirus is a man-made virus designed in a lab to kill off elderly folk around the world? Do we believe this is yet another attempt to kill Black people globally? Perhaps, this is a virus sent directly to earth from Big Daddy God, who is sitting up in heaven, sick, tired and mad with his children? Or perhaps just mad with those who get infected with the virus?

I am being bombarded with calls from my friends and family who want me to join them in conspiracy conversations about where, why, when, how this coronavirus landed in America on top of us. My response is always the same, “I do not know about any of this, all I know is there are things we MUST do NOW:


  1. Hold on to your faith in God that the inhabitants of planet earth will survive this global pandemic regardless of race, creed, color, sexual orientation, religion, geographic location, etc.
  2. Listen to scientific facts and take appropriate actions
  3. Do not think and act against sound scientific facts in order to prove your Black skin protects you from the virus
  4. Choose who you will have conversations with and what you will and will not talk about
  5. Guard your mind, heart and soul
  6. Stay at home and take care of you and your family
  7. Make sure the elderly, children and those who need us most are safe and have what they need
  8. Be kind to each other: Love your neighbor as you love yourself
  9. Do all that you can to support our health care professionals and first responders, including those who work in grocery stores, truck drivers and others who deliver food and goods, sanitation workers, law enforcers, those who are providing us with our essential goods, etc.
  10. Drink lots of water. Exercise. Rest. Stay connected to your church, mosque, synagogue, and/or spiritual circle throughout the week
  11. Mediate on God and His Abundance of Goodness in your life
  12. Stay in Prayer and be a Balm in Gilead in word and deed

Abiding Faith, Love & Peace!


Facts on Social Distancing – How It Helps Slow the Spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Facts on Social Distancing – How It Helps Slow the Spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

The goal of social distancing in reference to COVID-19 is to slow down the outbreak in order to reduce the chance of infection among high-risk populations and to reduce the burden on healthcare systems and workers.

The official phrase is “social distancing,” but it is helpful to think of “social distancing” as “physical distancing” instead.

What is Social Distancing? 

Social distancing is a term applied to specific actions that are taken by Public Health officials to stop or slow down the spread of a highly contagious disease since a pandemic cannot be stopped once it has started. Because coronavirus is spread mainly through respiratory droplets (especially when people cough or sneeze), maintaining a bit of distance will help to decrease the spread of the virus.

The CDC recommends maintaining a distance of about 6 feet from others when possible. By minimizing the amount of close contact we have with others, we reduce our chances of catching the virus and spreading it to our loved ones and within our community. It’s also important to practice other preventative measures such as washing hands, avoiding touching your face, coughing into your elbow and staying home if you feel sick.

Why is social distancing important?

Social distancing is important for all of us, but those of us who are at higher risk of serious complications caused by COVID-19 should be especially mindful about social distancing.

According to the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD)Division of Viral Diseases people who are at high risk of complications include:

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Other high-risk conditions could include:
    • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    • People who have heart disease with complications
    • People who are immunocompromised including cancer treatment
    • People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index [(BM]I)‚â•40) or certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as those with diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease might also be at risk
  • People who are pregnant should be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness, however, to date data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk

Ways to Stay Social

Reaching out to people you trust is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety, depression, loneliness, and boredom during social distancing, quarantine, and isolation.

You can:

  • Use the telephone, email, text messaging, and social media to connect with friends, family, and others.
  • Talk “face to face” with friends and loved ones using Skype or FaceTime.
  • Taking a walk or a hike or riding bikes are great ways to get out and get active without having physical contact.

What are other ways to limit the spread of disease?

Other public health measures could include isolation and quarantine. According to the CDC’s latest guidance:

Isolation refers to the separation of a person or people known or reasonably believed to be infected or contagious from those who are not infected in order to prevent spread of the disease. Isolation may be voluntary, or compelled by governmental or public health authorities.

Quarantine in general means the separation of a person or people reasonably believed to have been exposed to a communicable disease but not yet symptomatic from others who have not been so exposed in order to prevent the possible spread of the disease. With COVID-19, the CDC has recommended a 14-day period to monitor for symptoms.

To slow the spread of COVID-19, the White House and the CDC has issued guidelines for Americans to follow. Do your part to slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and practice Social Distancing.

For more information visit www.coronavirus.gov or www.cdc.gov.





COVID-19 What The Faith Community Needs To Know

COVID-19 What The Faith Community Needs To Know

COVID-19 and What the Faith Community Needs To Know

Our world is facing circumstances unprecedented in our lifetime. The faith community is a connection that many have sought solace in the time of uncertainty. Here are details the faith community needs to lead the efforts to keep everyone safe.

Know the Facts

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided information on their website on the symptoms, testing and stigma associated with COVID-19 (Coronavirus). This information is important as faith communities encounter persons that may be infected or concerned about contracted the virus. Also, noting and emphasizing that the disease can make anyone sick regardless of his or her race, ethnicity, demographic or social status.

Symptoms to Seek Medical Advice:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
Symptoms to Seek Immediate Medical Attention:
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face
Have Been in Close Contact with Person Diagnosed or a Person Who Has Been in Close Contact:
  • Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room
  • Tell them about your recent travel and/or your symptoms
Quarantine! If You Are Sick or Caring for Someone Who Is:
  • Stay home except to get medical care and monitor your symptoms
  • Stay in touch with your doctor. Call ahead before visiting your doctor
  • Avoid public transportation
  • Separate yourself from other people in your home, this is known as home isolation
  • Limit contact with pets & animals
  • Wear a facemask if you are sick or caring for others
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, throw away in lined trashcan, and wash hands for 20 seconds or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol when soap is not available.
  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday
When To Discontinue Quarantine:

People with COVID-19 who have stayed home (home isolated) can stop home isolation under the following conditions:

If you will not have a test to determine if you are still contagious, you can leave home after these three things have happened:

  • You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use medicine that reduces fevers) AND
  • other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved) AND
  • at least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared

If you will be tested to determine if you are still contagious, you can leave home after these three things have happened:

  • You no longer have a fever (without the use medicine that reduces fevers) AND
  • other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved) AND
  • You received two negative tests in a row, 24 hours apart. Your doctor will follow CDC guidelines.

“In all cases, follow the guidance of your healthcare provider and local health department. The decision to stop home isolation should be made in consultation with your healthcare provider and state and local health departments. Local decisions depend on local circumstances.”


There are ways we all can be proactive in preventing spread of COVID-19. The faith community practicing the suggested ways of prevention allows the world to see the leadership and concern that faith communities have for all people. Many are conflicted with struggling with this being a matter of faith over fear; however, this is a demonstration of love for community. Here are ways the faith community can lead in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community
  • Plan ways to limit face-to-face contact between people at your organization
  • Identify space that can be used to separate sick people (if possible)
  • Identify actions to take if you need to temporarily postpone or cancel events, programs, and services. Consider limiting access to your organization by non-essential visitors
  • Cancel gatherings, services and events. Provide web- and mobile-based communications and services, if possible
  • Clean your hands often. Wash hands for 20 seconds or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol when soap is not available.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection
  • Clean often high-touch surfaces in public places, such as, doorknobs, elevator button, countertops, etc.
  • Keep abreast of updates and share with staff and the community
  • Share information through your social media accounts and website
  • Stay connected to staff, members, stakeholders and the community via phone, video conferencing, email and/or writing letters
  • Find ways to bring the faith community together to continue human connection and manage stress

For more information on how your church or faith organization can prepare, prevent and promote best practices addressing COVID-19, please visit the CDC website. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – Printed Resources 

Diabetes Alert Day

Diabetes Alert Day

March 24, 2020 is National Diabetes Alert Day. The Balm In Gilead asks you to join us as we work to send a “wake-up call” about the impacts of Diabetes on families and communities across the country. This year, it is even more imperative that we work to reduce risks associated with this disease as persons having Diabetes are more susceptible to the novel Coronavirus or COVID-19.

More than 30 million Americans have diabetes while another 84 million have prediabetes. This is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. For African Americans and other minority communities, the need to take action is even more important as these groups disproportionately being impacted.

We encourage you to find visit us on the web at https://www.balmingilead.org/sdfi/ to learn more about what The Balm is doing to combat Diabetes through culturally tailored faith-based diabetes prevention programs offered through its Southeast Diabetes Faith Initiative (SDFI) – a 6 state initiative reaching underserved communities across the southeast US by expanding access to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP). This lifestyle change program is an evidenced-based program that has been proven to cut the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by up to 58% (71% for person ages 60 and over). Enrollment is open today for Summer/Fall classes. Sign-up for our mailing list to learn more about joining a SDFI-NDPP near you!

It is also important that we understand the risk of Diabetes. If you – or someone you love – is living with other chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure or obesity you may be at increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Take this easy and quick online Diabetes Risk Test.