Photo By Claudia J. Gonzalez
By: Claudia J. Gonzalez
Merced, Calif.— After three months of closed doors, the Merced LGBT Community Center celebrated a grand re-opening on Saturday to the delight of the community.
Around 75 people attended the ceremony which included speakers, live performances, food and a silent auction. The Center provides resources and serves as a safe space for LGBTQ youth and allies to gather.
The reopening was possible with the help of Gay Central Valley, California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA), Building Healthy Communities Merced and We’Ced Youth Media.
Stacy Swanson, LGBTQ Merced Alliance board member, said reopening the doors of the center was imperative as “a lot of people, families and children need a safe place in Merced.”
Swanson added that the reopening was the result of very hard work, a lot of ambition and the community coming together.
According to Ana Rick of CRLA, the Center provides services to LGBTQ youth that are not available anywhere else in Merced County.
“We are invested in making a difference with this community, in particular for youth,” she said.
Kiera Daly, 21, a youth member of the center, recited a poem during the event.
“Knowing that the center will be around makes me happy,” she said. “Next year, I plan to become a leader to ensure this place stays open because youth like me need a safe place.”
Back in July, the center’s parent group, Gay Central Valley, announced the center would close due to changes in local leadership. Now a new group of volunteers and community members, the LGBTQ Merced Alliance, has stepped up to lead.
The Merced LGBTQ Center is located at 1744 G St. and is open Tuesday to Saturday from 3 to 7 p.m.. Youth meetings are Wednesdays at 6 to 7:30 pm, open to ages 14-21. For more information call (209) 626-5551 or visit their website and Facebook.
For more pictures of the event, visit our Facebook album here.