The LGBT Center of Central PA has been a fixture in LGBT services and advocacy since 2004, when a strategic planning group “broke ground” on the concept of having a regional community center. Over the last decade, programming and services have expanded to offering youth programs like the GSA Leadership Summit and the Common Roads Youth Group, Aging with Pride programs, the LGBT History Project based out of Dickinson College, Social and Cultural Programs like Lancaster Pride and Outreach and Education initiatives such as a lending library and the Silent Witnesses Peacekeepers Alliance.
For the last year and a half, the executive director of the LGBT Center, Louie Marven, and his staff have had their eyes on York. As Louie stated, “There is great energy here. Some amazing people and great programs like Equality Fest and The Curve [a youth group that meets out of Planned Parenthood Keystone’s York Branch] and the York PFLAG chapter [Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, held at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York]. It clearly demonstrates there is a desire for LGBT specific gathering spaces and community here.”
And so, beginning in November, York will become the base for a new pilot program consisting of a satellite center based out of downtown’s Heidelberg United Church of Christ at 47 West Philadelphia Street. Heidelberg, led by Pastor Amy Schulz, is an accepting and affirming congregation which specifically strives to provide a safe space for LGBT Yorkers of all religions. By entering through a garden of congregation planted flowers outside the Beaver Street entrance on the side of the church, every Wednesday night, LGBT citizens of York and their allies can take part in original and York specific programming designed from surveys and focus groups made up of members of the York LGBT community.
Initial programming will include LGBT Parents on the first Wednesday, LGBT Men on the second Wednesday, LGBT Seniors on the third Wednesday, and LGBT Women on the fourth Wednesday. All groups will take place from 6:00 – 8:00pm and be free of charge. There will also be an LGBT book and DVD lending library on site and information about local and regional programs and resources.
As LGBT Center staff member and York County resident, Patrick Gann, who will be helping facilitate each group along with a local volunteer coordinator or coordinators said, “Common to each group, we’ll be having psycho-educational presentations, facilitated discussions, informal group discussion time, guest speakers, maybe a social night or movie night. Once a group is established, we would encourage the group members to give feedback to direct the programming of the group in one direction or another. The goal of each group is to provide supports specific to those audiences – networking, information/education, social support, and sometimes, just a place to vent, connect or hang out!”
For more information about taking part in the drop-in meet-up groups, to volunteer or learn more about York LGBT Center programs, feel free to contact Patrick Gann at firstname.lastname@example.org.