LGBT center may close without support

July 21, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A resource that a lot of people depend on for counseling and support in the Bay Area is in serious financial trouble. So serious, it could close its doors by September 1. Advocates believe this community center is needed now more than ever.

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A few years ago, a conversation about attending a gay prom wasn't one either Andre Pommier or 17-year-old Parisa Zamanian would've been comfortable having -- now they are. They say it's because of the Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center.

"The DeFrank center has given me a really great group of friends and support in general at times when I wasn't comfortable at school. I could always go to the DeFrank center," says Zamanian.

"This is a heaven-sent thing," says Pommier.

The only LGBT center south of San Francisco, is in danger of closing. The loss of corporate donations and city and county dollars means most of its funding sources are gone.

"Let's just say our budget last year was $660,000. This year we're down to $310,000. We've cut it more than 50 percent," says the center's executive director Paul Wysocki.

Regardless, it's still not enough. Tuesday night, the center's board of directors called an emergency meeting. They're hoping the community will come through with donations.

"We're not going to be here if you don't help. This is a community center the government funding has gone away," says board president Anne Hansen.

"We are deeply concerned there will be more impacts to all the communities throughout California," says Javier Gonzalez, San Jose Councilmember Nora Campos' spokesperson.

San Jose city officials blame the state budget for local cuts to non profits. Still, LGBT leaders insist the center is needed now more than ever because of the state ban on gay marriage. If the money is not raised by September 1, one option is to turn the center into a place purely run by volunteers.

Link:
Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center

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