Here are SFGN's "Best of 2018" winners in the Groups category in Broward County.
Best Business Group
Wilton Manors Business Association
In the often clashing world of local industry, business owners should turn to each other.
The Wilton Manors Business Association links all the business owners in Wilton Manors and the surrounding area to provide business-to-business networking opportunities.
Recognized by businesses and businesspersons alike, this is the first time WMBA has won “Best Business Group.”
“Wow! What an honor. This recognition is a true testament to the dedication of the group's board of directors and its members,” said Board President Tim Moffitt. “Our commitment to local businesses combined with our esteemed relationship with City Government makes us the go-to business organization for any business in and around Wilton Manors.”
With now over 200 members, membership goes for $100 annually. Membership gets you a business web link to your site from the WMBA website. It also gets you listed in the Wilton Manors Business Directory & City Guide, which is published annually.
WMBA membership services include providing new business contacts, lists of new companies upon request, as well as current project information gathered from monthly meetings.
Experiencing record breaking attendances at monthly luncheons and evening mixers, expect to be associating soon.
Best Group For Women
Like advocating for women, with women? Women In Network has been working tirelessly for 31 years to bring LBT women and their allies together to network, advocate, and educate.
This is the seventh year that WIN has received the most votes for “Best Group For Women.”
Uniquely for WIN, there is a “wide spectrum represented - women who have been advocates and activists for decades, and those who are just starting; women who have been in business for years, and those recently entering the workforce; women in their 70s and women in their 30s,” President Denise Spivak stated.
For one of their recent events, WIN was able to bring in Joan E. Biren, an internationally recognized documentarian whose work has chronicled the lives of LGBT people for more than 30 years; presenting her with the first ever WIN Woman of Vision award.
Looking to the future, Spivak said, “We're excited about the LBT Health Directory which we continue to provide with our partners The Pride Center/Women with Pride, where LBT women can find culturally competent healthcare providers.”
Best Non-Profit And Support Group
Pride Center at Equality Park and Alcoholics Anonymous @ the Pride Center
2040 N. Dixie Highway
Everyone can use more Pride.
The Pride Center has won for Best Non-Profit seven times. The Pride Center celebrates 25 years of service this year.
According to the website, their mission is to “provide a welcoming, safe space - an inclusive home - that celebrates, nurtures and empowers the LGBTQ+ communities and our friends and neighbors in South Florida."
The Pride Center is a major site for HIV testing, prevention, outreach, education, healthcare linkage, support, holistic health and counseling.
“Last year, more than 35,000 adult and youth attended activities [here]. The Center hosts more than 65 regularly-meeting groups each month,” said Robert Boo, CEO of the center. “Support, social and educational groups focus on seniors, youth, women, men, transgender individuals, recovery, health, the arts, athletics, spirituality, games and more. Outreach activities over the past year directly impacted over 250,000 residents and visitors to South Florida.”
Boo added, “many sources of grant funding we utilize today to serve thousands may not be here next year. Here’s the reality: we are going to have to take care of our community. The government isn’t going to do it. We are.”
Besides taking home the top prize for non-profit the Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at the Pride Center won for Best Support Group.
The success of those meetings can no doubt lend itself to the Pride Center’s open and diverse environment. Meetings are every morning from 8:45 a.m. to 10:15 a.m., in Building B.
So continue to support the Pride Center, and the individuals you know that struggle with addiction.
Best Group For Seniors
Coffee & Conversation
10 a.m. on Tuesdays
2040 N Dixie Hwy.
The Pride Center’s weekly Tuesday morning program was voted best group for seniors in Broward County. The fun begins at 10 a.m. as visitors arrive at the Pride Center’s Equality Park in Wilton Manors. Typically, there is a line waiting for the doors to be unlocked.
“Such an honor,” Bruce Williams said upon learning of the group’s recognition by readers of the SFGN. Williams coordinates Coffee & Conversation. He said the time his group of primarily LGBT elders has to spend with each other is invaluable.
“The interactions are important for this group,” Williams said.
Raffles, trivia, doughnuts, bagels and, of course, coffee are part of the experience. Community organizations are eager to get in front of this group, which often makes the announcements segment entertaining.
A sponsor is typically given a few minutes to speak at the end before Williams dismisses the group for lunch.
For more information, contact the Pride Center at 954-463-9005.
Best Social Group
Bears of South Florida
This is the third year in a row Bears of South Florida has won SFGN’s Best Social Group – totaling four wins.
President and Treasurer Tony Jones said “thank you so much,” and “our board and volunteers give freely of their time.”
Founded in 2002, Bears of South Florida is a social group and 501c3 non-profit.
“[Our] primary mission for the last 16 years is to provide social and fraternal opportunities for bears, cubs, and their admirers while also raising money for local LGBTQ+ non-profit organizations,” Jones said.
Since its inception, the social club has raised over $70,000 for these causes with its calendar of fundraisers including the wildly popular “Saturday Night Pool Party,” as well as the festive “The Gay Bed and Breakfast of Terror” movie night at Holy Angels, and “Scare A Bear at Enigma Haunt Haunted Attraction” just this past October.
And don’t let the name frighten you away – according to the website, Bears of South Florida “will strive for diversity and acceptance of any person who wishes to join.”
So the next time you see a sleuth of Bears fundraising at your local Italian eatery, say hello.
Best Group For Trans People
Safe “T” Transgender / Gender Non-Conforming Group at SunServe
2312 Wilton Dr.
Safe “T” is a drop-in support group for those who don’t conform to gender stereotypes. Its services range from mental health support to even name change assistance.
This is the second time Safe “T” at SunServe has taken in the most votes for “Best Group for Trans People.”
Director of Transgender Services at Sunserve, Santi Aguirre, explained that “Safe ‘T’ is successful because of its facilitators who make it a safe place for participants to talk and open up about their lives and their experiences. All of the facilitators are behavioral health counselors who allow the participants to design all of Safe ‘T’s’ activities.”
When asked what is the greatest obstacle facing those who don’t conform to standard gender convention, Aguirre said it “is really not being understood and respected by society."
He added, “When someone refers to themselves and their friends as ‘they’ or ‘them,’ people often give them a blank stare.”
Safe "T" is every Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at SunServe North. The group serves between 10-20 participants on a weekly basis. It is limited to transgender, and gender-queer persons only.
Many non-binary citizens face an uphill battle against society, luckily, there is Safe “T” at Sunserve.