Here are SFGN's "Best of 2016" winners in the groups category in Broward County.
Best Social Group
The Bears of South Florida
Founded in 2002, the Bears of South Florida is a nonprofit that raises members’ funds and donates them to local causes. Each year, the Bears raise a minimum of $5,000 from the generous support of its members. In addition to fundraising, this group hosts numerous social events throughout the calendar year. Things like potlucks, movie nights, pool parties and holiday parties are all a part of the fun. For instance, Bears Night Out at the Theatre is a popular outing. The club aims to be inclusive and accepts any individual who would like to join. Club membership does, as the name suggests, consist of bears, cubs and those who love them, but acceptance of all diverse individuals are warmly welcomed. The Bears is a group that fosters friendship, encourages a positive attitude, and camaraderie in the group and as well as in the community.
The bears also won this category two years ago.
Best Group for Women
Women In Network
Women in Network (WIN) has been a staple in South Florida since 1987, and one of the longest-running lesbian organizations in Florida. The group organizes networking opportunities, social events, advocacy efforts, and health and educational programs.
Recent programs and events include a self-defense seminar, putt-putt charity event, A discussion with activist Ginny Apuzzo, the forming of a LBT Health Directory (www.lbthealth.org), and hosting a monthly LGBT Grandparents Group meeting.
“For me, being a part of WIN means I have the chance to socialize and give back to my community,” WIN Board Treasurer Lynn Glover told SFGN in a previous interview. “I am driven by connection and making a difference. I have also cultivated many meaningful business relationships.”
Each month of the first Wednesday, WIN hosts a “WIN First Wednesday” event at a different location across south Florida.
“All of our events are meant to bring women together so that we can have a strong support system in our community and beyond,” Glover said. “I have many friends in WIN, both personally and professionally. They are my ‘sisters’ and I know that I can count on them for love and support.”
Best Place for Trans Folks
Safe “T” Transgender / Gender Non-Conforming Group at SunServe
2312 Wilton Dr.
Once again, SunServe has come out on top with its services for the transgender community.
The non-profit social services agency is located on the heart of Wilton Drive, and it’s no secret that their dedication has paid off with many local trans people. From mental health support and therapy to assistance with name changes, the organization boasts that it has helped hundreds of trans people across the state.
Every Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the North wing of SunServe, the ‘Safe “T” Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming’ support group becomes a safe haven for trans people who travel from across South Florida. While not the only group offered at SunServe for trans people to connect, it’s by far the most popular.
Inside the group itself, it’s no surprise why. Whether someone is a regular at the group or it’s their first time walking through the doors, the group feels much like a family. A discussion can be serious one moment, then immediately follow with a tale of success. Either way, the group creates a confidential yet family-like environment that gives many trans and gender-nonconforming people an opportunity to connect with experiences unique to transitioning.
“SunServe has helped more people this year than ever before,” said Atticus Ranck, former Director of Transgender Services at Sunserve. “And we will continue to support our community.”
For all the commitment that SunServe has shown towards the transgender community, it’s no surprise that their own Safe “T” group has taken the prize for this year’s Best Of 2016.
For more information, www.SunServe.org/Groups.
Best Business Group
Greater Fort Lauderdale Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
Whether it’s networking and mixers or just camaraderie among other LGBT business leaders the Greater Fort Lauderdale Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is the organization to belong to. At least that’s what our readers think this year!
"We are thrilled to be voted Best Business Group for 2016,” said President and CEO Keith Blackburn. “We've had an incredibly successful year with new member benefits like Business Connect and the Purple Palm hospitality training and certification program.”
The group launched in 2011 and since then their main goals have been to:
- Assist in promoting LGBT and LGBT friendly business throughout Greater Fort Lauderdale
- Promote the NGLCC Supplier Diversity Initiative (SDI) as a business tool to make connections and open doors with America's top corporations and each other
- Work with local, statewide and national corporate partners to bring sponsorship dollars to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
- Advocate on LGBT business issues & initiatives by aligning with strategic partners
- Work with local LGBT tourism initiatives
- Assist in the development of local LGBT business education programs
Best Support Group
2312 Wilton Drive
SunServe offers extensive social support services to South Florida’s LGBT community. The services are designed for all ages, from youth to seniors, so SunServe’s reach is quite vast. The nonprofit follows a mission of serving the economically disadvantaged, marginalized youth, seniors, individuals living with health concerns, and nontraditional families.
This year SunServe’s Bereavement Group took the award for Best Support Group.
“I hope that the SFGN readers selected the Bereavement Group as the Best Support Group because it is making a positive impact in people’s lives. We don’t ever minimize anyone’s grief because this journey is different for each person,” said Rev. Anne R. Atwell, who founded the group. “And we remind those seeking their ‘new normal’ after the death of a dear loved one to be very gentle with themselves. I believe it is those reminders, along with the community that is formed in the groups, which has helped our local LGBTQ community move through their grief in an effective and life-affirming way.”
The Bereavement Groups meet each Thursday at 1 p.m. in the SunServe office on Wilton Drive and at 7 p.m. on the Sunshine Cathedral campus.