New Beginnings TLC hosted a networking and fundraising dinner event on Saturday, Oct. 10 to celebrate its new status as a 501(c)3 non profit.
New Beginnings’ main service has been operating an after surgery center called the New Beginnings Retreat, which provides post operative care to trans patients, who have received gender reassignment surgery.
“When I transitioned, there was nothing like this,” said Buck Angel, a well-known trans man and porn star. Angel has also been named their Advocacy Director. “Healing in an environment that is loving and welcoming is one of the most important things about recovering from surgery. That’s what this place is all about… this is a game changer.”
Since opening in 2013 they’ve been able to care for 464 patients from around the world.
The New Beginnings president Leland Koble, along with vice president and CEO Bonnie Lazarus, hosted the networking fundraiser at the Sheraton Suites Hotel in Fort Lauderdale to give the community an opportunity to learn about other transgender specific programs and to meet and network with LGBTQ advocates from across Florida. Now that New Beginnings TLC is registered as a non-profit, they hoped the event would help them raise money for patients who would come into their care.
Part of their shift to a non-profit includes the introduction of a second location, which will serve as a safe house for trans and non-conforming youth who are kicked out or trapped in an unsafe environment. The location of both the safe house and the recovery center are kept quiet, ensuring their patients have privacy.
Koble began New Beginnings shortly after his own surgery, which he noted was a challenge in itself. The recovery center, he said, has become a passionate way to help others in the community who might not have the same luxury of receiving their surgery locally.
“I pick you up from the airport, get you to surgery, and pick you up from surgery,” Koble said, speaking of his duties at the center. “Each room has a recliner, cooler… we even have two recovery dogs and a recovery bird.”
Koble went on to explain the efforts of the center and how much work goes into caring for their patients every day, saying his duties ranged from changing bandages to running out for groceries.
Koble and Lazarus’ passion has touched many, including Angel.
“Twenty years ago with my surgeon, I was their first patient,” Angel said. “Endocrinologist, first patient. I was called their guinea pig.”
Angel said after first meeting Koble, they connected. After his first tour of the recovery center, he cried.
“I’ve been around the world, and I’ve never seen the kind of energy that I see at that place,” said Angel on stage, swiping at the corner of his eyes while he studied the audience.
He believes there will be monumental growth for New Beginnings throughout the next year.
Another member of the team includes their Medical Advisor Dr. Russell Sassani, a plastic surgeon who has quickly been gaining recognition for his gender confirmation surgeries. Sassani, who is a member of the LGBT community himself, has worked closely with Koble, who in turn is a strong advocate for the quality and incredibly fair pricing of Take Shape Surgery Center, LLC, where Sassani works.
“Being a gay run surgery center, we’re very sensitive to the needs of our patients,” Sassani said. “We can’t help but be moved by the many individual patients that we have seen.”
He went on to say it was an honor to serve on the board, as well as raise money alongside New Beginnings for patients who were struggling with their surgery.
Besides the specialized care of the team at New Beginnings, the retreat also offers an environment that holds a unique sense of community for the patients recovering.
To learn about New Beginnings TLC, visit NewBeginningsTLC.org. For more information about the New Beginnings Retreat itself, visit NewBeginningsRetreat.com.