Gay Central Valley officially formed as a nonprofit in January of 2009. Prior to that, we were a group of Central Valley websites run by volunteers from their homes. Once we were granted official 501c3 status by the IRS, Gay Central Valley forged ahead with a force, opening the first LGBT Community Center in Fresno in 20 years as one of our first projects. The Community Center opened officially in January of 2010 and has been going strong ever since.
Led by Chris Jarvis, a veteran LGBT rights activist, Gay Central Valley has faced an uphill battle from the start. Issues such as funding, staffing, volunteer / leadership changes and our ongoing philosophy of an all-volunteer organization (where no one receives compensation and all money raised is funneled back into the community) presented ongoing challenges.
Keeping a community center open to the public for 5-6 days a week for seven years is a massive accomplishment in itself. But we didn't stop there; we have done so much more. From countless outreach events, over a hundred support group meetings, and spearheading unique projects like the first ever Central Valley Transgender Clothing Closet and the international awareness program The Rainbow Delegation, Gay Central Valley continued to expand itself to match the ever changing needs of the Fresno LGBT community.
Running a community center with a 24 hour phone line, supporting and mentoring another center in a city an hour away, creating and providing social and political events and actions, participating and partnering with other organizations, publishing and updating websites and blogs, training others in cultural competency, and hosting the most successful one day LGBT fundraiser in Fresno history (NO H8 2012) has been both an honor and a privilege.
We have been successful year after year. Board members and volunteer staffs have come and gone, but through all the changes and the challenges, we've persevered. Our primary foundation has been to serve the LGBT community.
Now, we're announcing a change.
Gay Central Valley will be closing the Fresno LGBT Community Center as of August 1st, 2017. The organization itself will cease operations by the end of the year.
This decision did not come easily. Long time board members have regularly discussed how best to use resources and support the community at large, how to move forward, what the scope is for coming years, etc. Volunteers have come and gone and the board has been rebuilt many times with different goals and focuses.
This trailblazing organization and its Board of Directors are proud of the hurdles we've jumped and the lives we've saved. After a long and difficult thought process, we find that now is the right time for this change. This is the time for us to pass the baton to the next group or organization that is willing to take up the challenge. We sincerely hope that vital works such as a community center, The Rainbow Delegation, and Cultural Competency Training Outreach will be taken on by other local organizations.
While the organization itself is shutting down, those of us who have worked for Gay Central Valley over the years remain available to provide assistance and support where it is needed, although in a different fashion. Our phone number and websites will remain available for a period of time. While we are stepping away from the organization, we want to assure everyone that we are not stepping away from the community.
Chris Jarvis and Kaylia Metcalfe-Armstrong, the longest running leaders of the organization, want to thank all those that have given their time, energy, passion and dedication to this organization over its run. You served the community and provided access to resources that literally saved lives. We appreciate each and every one of you. This organization could never have had the kind of success it's had without each one of your voices.
To our volunteers that have staffed the LGBT Community Center for almost eight years, our words fail us. You have been the front lines of this LGBT effort in Fresno and have made a safe place for all those reaching out for help. You have made an incredible difference in people's lives. We hope that the volunteer opportunities we have provided you have started you on a lifelong path of service to others, as it has us.
And to our local community, which has embraced and supported us for so long, what can we say? Your financial contributions, emotional and social support and your very presence have allowed us the freedom to do the difficult and time consuming day-to-day work to provide access and support for others, to give them a voice and to raise them up to the equality and recognition that they deserve.
We can't thank you enough.
Our final contribution to the LGBT community as Gay Central Valley will be as follows:
Our facilitated groups will continue to have access to the Center through September 1st.
We will be donating the inventory of the Fresno LGBT Community Center to those people and organizations who are working to help the community in Fresno and the Central Valley. Our inventory includes, but is not limited to, hardware, appliances, furniture, office supplies, books, media, clothing, event supplies, pride supplies, artwork, holiday supplies.
Gay Central Valley will be donating financially to other nonprofits (501c3 designation) in Fresno that support the LGBT Community.. We will consider all those who apply.
GAY CENTRAL VALLEY
559-325-4429 FRESNO LGBT COMMUNITY CENTER