The Prince of Pride Center at Equality Park
On February 23 Paul Hyman, Executive Director of South Florida’s Pride Center at Equality Park, was appointed to the national Board of Directors of CenterLink, the international association of LGBT community centers.
“Our board members are the most visionary and dedicated leaders in the LGBT community,” CenterLink’s Executive Director Terry Stone announced, referring to Hyman and other recent appointees. “Their experience, commitment and leadership will be driving forces in our work to assist centers in building a movement that honors and promotes full human rights and dignity for all LGBT people.”
Hyman himself sees his appointment as being “a great opportunity to share, support and feel understood. Our roles are unique in our respective communities. It is encouraging to feel understood and supported in this way.”
Hyman’s appointment to the CenterLink board is just one more achievement for a man whose five years as the Center’s CEO. He was hired in January 2005, for what was then the Gay and Lesbian Community Center (GLCC) of South Florida.
Before taking on his current position, Hyman was Broward Services Manager for Care Resource, a large HIV/AIDS service provider in Miami. “I have also had the opportunity to complete master’s degrees in Business Administration and Social Work, as well as work experience in various business, healthcare and educational settings. I also maintain a clinical social work license and have a small psychotherapy practice in Fort Lauderdale,” he adds.
Last September, under Hyman’s leadership, the Center moved to a new location, a 35,000 square foot home in three buildings on 5.5 acres of river front property in Wilton Manors that was soon dubbed Equality Park. As Hyman says, “the move culminates a multi-year, labor intense, complex and somewhat risky process. It is highly gratifying to be in the new facility. It is well received by participants and visitors, and has energized volunteers, staff and Board members. The installation of our new elevator is nearly complete, which will enable us to use the second floor later in April.”
There was some concern about moving the Center’s very popular monthly Flea Market. Hyman admits that “moving the Flea Market was originally a daunting task. We strive to maintain these characteristics of the Flea Market and it continues to be well attended by guests and vendors.”
Now settled at Equality Park, the Pride Center provides meeting space for more than 50 groups. “Demand for space continues to increase as does utilization,” Hyman says. “The accommodations are much nicer at the new facility. It is also accessible and there is plenty of parking.” The Center also offers an alphabet soup of services, programs and events, including YEPSA (Youth Education and Prevention of Substance Abuse); BUSY (Benefitting Under Served Youth); GALANES (GAy LAtino No Estas Solo); and the PALS (Positive Action for Living Safely) Project, an HIV prevention program.
In addition, the Pride Center performs more than 300 HIV tests per month, answers over 200 calls per week for individuals who need assistance, and hosts social events for Seniors, Lavender Events for Women, Pride University (adult education) and the ever-popular monthly Bingo. Future plans for the Center include expanding the Center’s involvement with women, racial and ethnic minorities, young people, seniors the bisexual and transgender communities.
A week later, the Center took part in the annual Florida AIDS Walk, a 10 kilometer fund raising walkathon that addressed the AIDS crisis in our community. Hyman gives credit for the Walk’s success to the Center’s PALS Project, which “assembled a team of more than 100 who collectively raised more than $23,000 to support the Pride Center’s HIV/AIDS related services.”
Away from the Pride Center, Hyman “tries to maintain healthy functioning as an individual as well as on behalf of the agency. Exercise and diet help me do a better job at work. They help to keep my glass half full and help keep my head on straight. In my role it is important to be positive and attentive with a lot of people, both at work and out and about in the community,” he notes.
“My partner, Bill Bracker, a local clinical psychologist, and I enjoy our pets and circle of close friends. We both like to cook and to travel. With such a socially active job, my idea of a relaxing time is to go to a quiet place at the beach or wherever and catch up on my Vanity Fair magazines! And I love an occasional martini. I’m also a regular fan of the PBS News Hour, CBS Sunday Morning, Modern Family and old Mary Tyler Moore Show episodes, which are hard to find. In the car I go for classical music, it calms me down and gets me ready for the next meeting or event of the day. I also look forward to going out dancing more than I have been for the last few years.”