Column: The Pride Center is The Pulse of Our Community

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Robert Boo at the Diversity Honors Dinner in the Hard Rock Hotel delivered the following remarks on May 13, 2016. The Harvey Milk Foundation and the Pride Center at Equality Park presented the event.

As a Center, we work daily to create a community that supports young people like Ryland Whittington and our other honorees. We provide a welcoming, safe space--an inclusive home--that celebrates, nurtures and empowers the LGBTQ communities and our friends and neighbors in South Florida.

All you have to do is watch the news or read your favorite blog to know that our community is growing and changing. So are our needs. As our community grows and embraces the diversity of all, so does our community center. Just this past year, we were the first LGBT community center in the country to build a playground to help our campus better meet the needs of LGBT families, children and our allies.

The largest LGBT senior program in the nation is not in New York or LA or even San Francisco, it is right here at The Pride Center. Every day we provide exercise classes, workshops, healthcare linkage, job training and social opportunities for older LGBT adults.

We're not just a little nonprofit providing vital programs and services to South Florida residents. We're one of the largest LGBT community centers in the country, and we're used to provide best practice models for centers nationwide--in HIV prevention, women's health resources, outreach to communities of color and more.

And we're not satisfied. We're planning and preparing for the next decades of service and the next generation of our community.  Just this year, we approved an exciting new Master Plan for our five-and-a-half acre campus. We've taken concrete steps toward building low-income senior housing on our campus. And the conceptual drawings include our work to build a state-of-the art international conference space named for Harvey Milk.

One consistent message I have heard over my decade at The Pride Center is that we need a place to come together for cultural, spiritual, and educational and entertainment purposes. Establishing a Harvey Milk International Center will allow us to bring people from all over the world to South Florida for powerful collaboration and common work. We will partner with the Harvey Milk Foundation on award-winning programming right here in our backyard.  The collaboration between our two organizations shines a bright, powerful spotlight on South Florida.

Tonight, you've heard a bit of the inspired work of the Harvey Milk Foundation from Stuart. I hope you'll visit our campus and learn more about the vital work of The Pride Center. Our synergistic partnership will empower South Florida to a cutting-edge leadership role on the international stage.

You're witnessing an incredible coming-together of two world-class organizations, The Milk Foundation and The Pride Center. Both are very different in our services and our capacities. But together we have the potential to enrich both the local and international communities in our common goals. Our movement needs collaborations like this to continue the fight for equality and to reject stigma.

We need each other--LGBT and straight ally, new immigrant and long time resident, Senior and youth.

Together, we can ensure that everyone has both the vision and hope provided by the Milk Foundation and access to the vast, life-enriching services and resources of The Pride Center.

Together, we can not only champion, but also achieve our common rights.


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