For some people, it is hard to reach out for help even when they desperately need it. Fortunately, there will always be people and organizations waiting to help no matter what. An example of that is Jennifer Cruz and the organization she manages.
The Fresno EOC Sanctuary LGBTQ Resource Center is a place for LGBTQ+ individuals and allies to hang out in a safe place, get much needed resources, and for groups to meet. Jennifer Cruz was hired to be the manager of the center and has worked hard to make it what it is today.
“The goal was to open a drop-in type space that would serve all ages of the LGBT community,” Cruz explains. “To provide a safe place for people to be, even like a hangout spot where someone could watch TV, or play games, or hang with friends but also be able to access a case manager.
We’ll be able to provide housing needs assessments; they can get a meal if they’re hungry or a cup of coffee. So, that we’re providing those basic needs before we’re asking what other services you want.”
Apart from these services, the center is also able to help to individuals with other needs by directing them to the appropriate resources. Whether it’s legal or mental help, the resource center can connect people with the assistance they need. The resource center also has space to hold group meetings, such as an LGBTQ+ AA meeting, or a support group for disabled LGBTQ+ individuals. They also host fun events on every third Friday of each month; last month they had a karaoke night where they had around 20 people singing and having fun.
Located on Fulton street, the center is relatively new, but they are already making an impact. Cruz estimates that around 20 people come to the resource center on a weekly basis. She also talked about wanting the center to grow and to be able to provide more services in the future, by getting more grants and by taking advantage of the space their building has.
From an in-house attorney to a massage therapist to even a cafe, Cruz wants to expand the center so it can have as much resources as possible. The resource center wants to do everything possible to help people. They even have a phone number located on their website where people can call or text to get resources if they don’t want to go directly to the center.
“We’re aware of the discrimination that happens,” Cruz says. “Fresno can be a scary place to be for some people. Especially depending on where they fall on that LGBT category. Safety first of course, and we want everyone to have the resources they need.”