The economic crisis is hitting everyone hard. Especially under stress are the charities and other organizations that run off grants and donations. One of these groups in dire straights is the LGBT Community Center of Tucson and Southern Arizona, Wingspan.
Wingspan has been serving Tucson's LGBT community since 1988 and with the economic downturn has come drastic cutbacks for the organization. The LGBT and straight supportive communities would sorely miss this center and it's vital services if the door's close on it, which is a very real possibility.
The Center provides vital Anti-Violence Programs, Youth Programs, Health and Wellness Programs, Seniors Programs, and Transgender Support, as well as numerous advocacy and community services.
The Center is making huge cuts and changes to try to stay afloat, but those drastic steps may not even be enough if the community doesn't step in to help.
In a letter posted on its website, Wingspan details the steps they are taking to survive. They are moving to a smaller building, which they will share with another group. They've canceled their annual community dinner. They are also cutting all staff positions that aren't grant funded. In addition, they Executive Director has stepped down to save money.
The group is desperately seeking volunteers to take the place of former paid staffers and also looking for any and all donations to help them continue to serve the community.
This, and other community centers across the country that provide much needed resources for our community, need our help. If you have a few extra dollars, donate to Wingspan or your local LGBT Community Center. If you don't have any extra money, give a few hours to help them continue to offer services.
Community Centers hold a special place in my heart. When I was a young gay teen growing up in conservative Central Florida, I rode the bus to visit the Orlando LGBT Community Center. Many times I would just stand across the street and watch, given a little bit of comfort that I wasn't alone. I finally had the courage to walk in, which opened up an entire new world to me.
These Centers provide information, hope, and services that our community desperately needs, especially in these hard times. Let's come together and make sure that the next generation of LGBT people have somewhere safe to go for years to come.