Guilford Greensboro Foundation and LGBTQ Center moves downtown
*Editor’s note: In the print version of this article, Dawn Chaney’s donation amount was listed incorrectly. It has been updated with the correct amount in the online version.
The Guilford Green Foundation and LGBTQ Center moved from its Bessemer Avenue location to a more spacious spot on North Greene Street in downtown Greensboro. The grand opening of the center’s new location is on Friday, Jan. 17, from noon to 6 p.m.
Jennifer Ruppe, executive director of the Guilford Green Foundation, said the success of the Foundation’s 2019 Building a Brighter Future LGBTQ Center Capital Campaign made renovating and opening the center possible to do in a relatively short amount of time. According to an August 2019 GGF newsletter, “Some 184 individuals and organizations donated about $180,000 to help us renovate our new Greene Street location in downtown Greensboro. That’s about three times our initial goal of $60,000.”
Donors included Dawn Chaney ($50,000), Ron Johnson (the first $15,000) and Bob Page ($10,000). (Yours truly also donated to this campaign.) The new space is 1,800 square feet and located at 121 N. Greene St.
“This space gives us a lot more physical room for programming because we have multiple areas,” Ruppe said. “We have a [trans] clothing closet that will be in the basement. With multiple meeting areas, we can do more programs simultaneously with a larger capacity-we can actually seat 50 people-it used to be 25. It allows us to be a good central point for statewide organizations that come together to meet-for example, Equality NC uses this [space] for some of their statewide meetings, and NC AIDS Action Network also uses this space for its statewide board meetings.”
Ruppe said the grand opening would begin after the official ribbon-cutting at noon, followed by cake cutting at 12:30 p.m. After, Ruppe said the center would have an open house with tours so that attendees will see the space in its entirety as well as three colorful murals by local artist Gina Franco.
“We will have light refreshments, and throughout the day, there will be board member staff and volunteers there to answer questions and give out tours throughout the day,” Ruppe said.
The LGBTQ Center’s new hours of operation will be 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Besides the increase in physical space and the centralized location, Ruppe said another success of moving the LGBTQ center is that GGF has been able to expand its other programs.
“With our greater visibility, more needs are being expressed for things that the community wants,” she said. “We just added the Youth Leadership Program, which was very successful, and resulting from that, there is a group of youth that are planning an alternative prom for this spring.”
GGF programming includes Gay and Gray (composed of a walking group, social meetups, game nights, educational opportunities), which meets at various times of the month for LGBTQ people ages 55 and up. The Youth Leadership Council, which is composed of leadership development programming and social programming for LGBTQ youth under 21. Queersboro, a social meet-up for LGBTQ young professionals and people under 40 years old, which meet on the first Thursday of the month at various locations. The trans programming is comprised of the GGF trans clothing closet, vocal training by Prismatic Speech Services and other support resources.
“One of the things [Prismatic] does is provide once a month, free group vocal training with two different levels, one intermediate and one beginner. So, that is a way to access their services free at the center once a month, but also to find out if it is something you want to invest in further,” she explained. “It has been a core part of our trans services for a while.”
There is also Healing Vibes by Lana, a yoga class held on Thursdays from 6 to 7:15 p.m. at the center. According to its Facebook page, Healing Vibes by Lana “creates a community of acceptance, support and love, advocating for mental health and social justice,” it brings “affordable, LGBTQ+ affirming, body-positive, trauma-informed yoga to the community on a sliding scale.”
All of GGF’s event programming can be found on its new event calendar, the OUT and About Calendar, which is now also available for the community to post their own LGBTQ events.
“We are physically accessible, and we are more prominent here downtown,” Ruppe said. “This is a safe, inviting place for the community to stop by anytime during our open hours. Of course, we have our resource library, and we hope to be the first stop for any LGBTQ-related questions, community connections.”
In addition to programming, Ruppe said the LGBTQ Center’s resource library is the “backbone of how people connect with us.” Ruppe said the library features a list of LGBTQ-affirming doctors, lawyers, and other LGBTQ-friendly service providers and businesses.
“That is how a lot of people come into contact with us for the first time other than just coming to the programs,” she said of the resource library. “We pride ourselves that we are able to provide those resources to people that are looking for them, and that also helps us promote local businesses that we know are LGBTQ-friendly. So, that is a win-win.”
Despite having a successful capital campaign to get the LGBTQ Center moved and renovated, Ruppe said the Foundation is still in need of funds to maintain its programming.
“Our capital campaign was very successful, which allowed us to build this first-rate facility,” Ruppe said. “However, our annual campaign called the Friendship Fund Drive is the money that we use to maintain programs. We are currently in the middle of our Friendship Fund Drive, and we still need people to contribute to that so we can maintain and provide the programs that people want in this center.”
She said the money raised through the Friendship Fund Drive, as well as the money raised from Green Queen Bingo and the annual Gala, support the functions of the center.
Ruppe said the annual GGF Gala will be held on March 21 and will feature Sally Kohn, founder and CEO of Movement Vision Lab, a liberal political commentator/columnist for CNN and a community organizer. Ruppe said tickets are on sale now via the GGF website.
“It is going to be perfect for this campaigning year,” Ruppe said. “We are super excited to have her confirmed.”
Coming up this month, there is a community forum called “Liberation” on Jan. 15 at the LGBTQ center hosted by GGF and Power Beyond Pride, a volunteer community project of A Great Idea. On Jan. 21 from 10 to 11:30 a.m., there is a Gay and Gray Walks & Talks at Jaycee Park, as well as LGBTQ youth drop-in hours from 4 to 7 p.m., and a PFLAG Greensboro meeting from 7:30 to 9 p.m. GGF in partnership with Greensboro Pride will hold its first Green Queen Bingo of the year on Jan. 31 at the Terrace at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, from 6 to 10 p.m. (appropriate for ages 15 and up). The event is hosted by Fuscia Rage and benefits both Greensboro Pride and GGF. There is also a Healing Vibes by Lana Rainbow Yoga session on Jan. 23 at the GGF LGBTQ Center. On Jan. 28, there is another Gay and Gray walking group (at the same time and same place), as well as a Gay and Gray game night from 6 to 9 p.m. at the LGBTQ center.
For more information, visit GGF’s website, www.guilfordgreenfoundation.org, OUT and About community calendar, and social media pages.
Katie Murawski is the editor-in-chief of YES! Weekly. Her alter egos include The Grimberlyn Reaper, skater/public relations board chair for Greensboro Roller Derby, and Roy Fahrenheit, drag entertainer and self-proclaimed King of Glamp.