When news headlines are dominated by disasters and political turmoil; it’s easy to forget the good in the world. It’s even easy to overlook the good happening in our own community; good that community members Randall Velasco-Stoll and Leon Velasco-Stoll are doing.
Founders of the Fresno Spectrum Center, Randall and Leon are here to assist the LGBTQ+ community members and allies as well. They provide resources and a safe space for people to come hang out and meet other members of the community. They provide board games, video games, and books for people to enjoy. The center also provides space for groups to have meetings or trainings. They provide this service for free, but a donation is always appreciated but not necessary.
“We developed a relationship with a lot of other non-profits, and in some cases, have also helped them become more LGBT friendly and become allies,” Randy explains. “So, we can help refer people that may have services; from anything like domestic violence situations or they don’t have enough food in their refrigerator for their family. We can help provide resources and stuff for them to make connections so that they can fulfill those needs.”
Randall and Leon also founded the LGBT Pink Panthers Movement; an anti-bullying organization. Founded around 5 years ago, the Pink Panthers Movement would be the first step into creating the Spectrum Center.
Located near Princeton and Blackstone, the Fresno Spectrum Center was founded by Randall and Leon, but they had plenty of help along the way. One of the biggest contributors, was Leon’s mom.
“It started off as an idea and [Leon’s] mom saying, ‘yeah you guys need to do this,’” Randall explains. “’You need to develop this, Hun, I’m behind you to help you.’ So, that’s how the LGBT Pink Panther’s came about; she was actually on the first board and she was a really big supporter.”
“She kind of helped to bring about that idea through her knowledge and was able to pass that on to us. Plus, we were also able to contact some of our mentors, like my mentors in the community; Jeff Robinson, Peter Robinson.”
Although it was a long journey for the idea of the Spectrum Center to become a reality; they don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. They have plans for the future. They are looking to get a grant to fund their Arts and Crafts night, which is hosted on the first Friday of every month. They’re also looking to get a grant for their resource fair. In the future, they want to expand to be able to help more people and provide more services. The Spectrum Center is always looking to help people.
“We just want people to walk in and be like ‘Oh wow, this is going to be okay’, Randall says. “If they read anything or see anything on the bulletin board; they see things that are going to make them feel safer.”