Fine Lifestyles
A Center of Respect and Support: The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland By Patti London One of the best facets of living in Cleveland is the abundance of resources available, no matter what your needs. We are extremely privileged to have an LGBT Community Center in Cleveland which is poised to extend even greater services and benefits to, not only the LGBT community, but to all of us. Plans were unveiled this year for a modern, well-appointed building to undergo construction in 2017 which will allow increased programming and plenty of room to grow. The current LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland has been a valued resource located in the Gordon Square neighborhood since 1999, well before the area became one of the destination neighborhoods for shopping, dining and date nights. The Center is rooted in that community and intends to remain there, relocating the new Center to 6705 Detroit. The modern design by the architecture firm Weber Murphy Fox will complement the historic, artsy look of Gordon Square. The new Center will have expanded space for events and programming. The Center currently offers a considerable variety of programs catering to all ages. From regular drop-in hours, aimed at providing a safe place and caring listeners for LGBT youth, to a full-blown seniors schedule, incorporating wellness programming, parties, dances and excursions to events like the Cleveland International Film Festival and the zoo. The Center provides the nurturing social support groups for all ages necessary to fulfilling its mission “to advance the rights, respect and diversity of the LGBT community.” The increased space and visibility in the neighborhood will also allow the Center to implement more programming for the transgender and genderqueer population. They currently partner with TransFamily to host a monthly support group, but recognize the need for diversity training and extended services for these vulnerable residents of our community. When the LGBT Community Center of Cleveland first opened its doors in Coventry in 1975, it was the third LGBT Center in the country. The first center opened in Los Angeles 47 years ago and now has a multi-million dollar annual operating budget. According to the 2016 Community Center Survey Report, a biennial report tracking trends in the growing movement of LGBT community centers by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) and CenterLink, there are now 250 such centers across the country. At the 143 centers which responded to the survey, 43,500 clients are served every week and over 6,000 people are referred to other organizations or agencies for services and assistance. The vast number of LGBT centers, however, operate on extremely small budgets, lack paid staff and 75% of them do not own their own space. Cleveland is fortunate that over 37 years many have dedicated their talents to making the Center what it is today. The Center now has a salaried staff of nine committed individuals and an Executive Director, Phyllis “Seven” Harris, with decades of experience with local nonprofits, including Planned Parenthood of Northeast Ohio, Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland and the Cleveland Sight Center. The Center will soon be joining those flourishing LGBT community centers operating out of their own space. Funding for the new building comes partially from an anonymous $1.8 million donation. Contact the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland to contribute to the long-term success and sustainability of an invaluable resource for so many of us. If you make a donation before December 31st, a grant from the Milton and Tamar Maltz Family Foundation that will match that up to $500,000. The Center always welcomes volunteers, if you need a fulfilling way to spend your spare time. The potential impact of your contribution of time and money is monumental. LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland 6000 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland 216.651.5428


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