The San Gabriel Valley LGBT Center Reaches its Tin Anniversary
This pandemic has taught the San Gabriel Valley LGBTQ Center a lot about our organization, our constituents, and our vision of a world free from discrimination for folks of all genders and sexual orientations. In the last three years we've arrived to our 10 year anniversary of the San Gabriel Valley LGBTQ+ Center! It is a huge accomplishment that we are all very proud of and it couldn't have been accomplished without each and every one of you.
The traditional ten year wedding gift is tin or aluminum because it represents strength and durability of a relationship that has stood the test of the time, which is very fitting for The SGV Center's celebration. Throughout the history of the center, there have been several different presidents, several different buildings we called home, and countless members and volunteers that have stopped by for a day, or stayed for years. Throughout it all, The SGV Center has stood firm and provided a welcoming and loving space for the San Gabriel Valley.
For the past 10 years, the center has been able to connect members of the San Gabriel Valley with various resources and form a supportive community. Throughout the years this has taken different forms. One way was starting the google voice number that members in the community could call or text to be connected with various resources like HIV testing centers or the local Planned Parenthood. At the beginning of our inception a key action to showing affirming spaces in public was through "planting the flag." They would go to a public area like the Santa Anita Mall or a local skating rink with the pride flag. This made pride visible to the people and provided them with a safe space where they could connect with another member of the LGBT community and find out how to become a member of the Center.
In 2016, the SGV center completed the first ever needs assessment of the LGBT community of the San Gabriel Valley. The members of the community were asked to submit an online survey as well as gather in various spaces throughout Pasadena, El Monte, Diamond Bar, and West Covina to share their needs and thoughts for the center. Through this the center got a better idea of what the LGBTQ+ community’s specific needs within the San Gabriel Valley were. First the center learned that the local SGV residents wanted to have a community. This might sound obvious, but it was important for the board members to see that their work truly was serving a purpose.
Next, they learned that people wanted locally provided and culturally competent services. LGBT+ people in the San Gabriel Valley have very different needs than those in the Los Angeles or Hollywood areas, and this gave the volunteers a clearer picture of what those needs are.
A third thing that the needs assessment showed was that there were two specific services that were desperately needed that we could provide, and one that we do not have the means to provide for yet. The first two needs were peer support groups for the senior community as well as the trans/non-binary community. From these two groups, we have birthed all of our future peer support groups, so this was a transformational moment for the center. The third group that the community requested was a recent immigrant/first generation LGBT peer support group. This summer it is the dream of the center to begin providing services for youth, seniors, and more populations once again.
The needs assessment was an important marker in our first 10 years as an LGBT center because it allowed us to connect with our community and pivot our work to tailor it to what our people actually needed. We now have a growing number of different peer support groups that serve the people in our community, and could even become a home for every person reading this blog post. This summer you'll hear more of the San Gabriel Valley LGBTQ+ Center's story, our newly formed SGV Pride Roundtable, and the effects of our first San Gabriel Valley Pride Tour taking place this Summer 2023!
In our next couple of blog posts, we will continue to celebrate the 10+ year anniversary of the center and talk more about how you can contribute to our dreams of growing our presence throughout the San Gabriel Valley in order to create a safe space that can be a home for all LGBTQ+ people. This anniversary, like the needs assessment and the energy of our San Gabriel Valley 2023 Pride Tour, feels like a turning point to our current 100% volunteer run team. We have a lot of moving parts throughout the center, but this pandemic has allowed us to get closer to our purpose and a concrete dream that we can bring to our neighbors, and ultimately fulfill our mission which is to have a San Gabriel Valley free from all discrimination where people feel heard, have a home, and can celebrate each other as part of the cross cultural and intersectional group that we all are a part of.
If that sounds like something you want to be a part of, reach out to us on our social media account, send us an email, or join one of our peer support groups. If a supportive cross cultural, intersectional group sounds like something you want to support in a time when we are greeted by so much hatred and violence, you can sign up to be a volunteer to help us keep our mission going forward, or even more importantly you can go to our web page and make a donation, even if it is only $5 per month.