Here are SFGN's "Best of 2017" winners in the other category in Broward County.
Best Non-Profit & HIV/AIDS Non-Profit
The Pride Center @ Equality Park
2040 N Dixie Hwy
We don’t have enough space to detail every single reason why The Pride Center is infinitely deserving of these awards. Hopefully the very real fact that they have won Best Non-Profit five years running should tell you enough.
The Pride Center hosts more than 65 meetings each month, focusing on women, communities of color, youth, seniors, and so many more groups. And the focuses are vast: health, education, parenting, diversity, the arts, and even games.
CEO Robert Boo said between 1,000 and 2,000 people visit The Pride Center every day and is one of the largest LGBT community centers in the world.
“Outreach activities over the past year directly impacted over 250,000 residents and visitors to South Florida,” he said. “Our vision is to be the premier point of connection for our community.”
Judging by the longstanding history of winning this accolade, they are doing a fine job meeting their vision.
But this year the Pride Center also has won for Best HIV/AIDS Non-Profit as well.
With their coveted L.I.F.E. Program, the KiKi Project that specifically targets people of color, and being a major site for HIV testing, it’s easy to see why they won.
“Thousands of people come to us to get tested and learn their HIV status,” Boo said. “We test in the bathhouses, sex clubs, universities, churches, businesses, housing developments, Walgreens, recovery centers and street festivals. We meet people where they are.”
The outreach team reaches far and wide to educate, enlighten, and empower those with HIV or who are looking to discover their statuses. While the Pride Center does so much more than HIV-related programs, their HIV/AIDS concentration has made them an integral part of the community.
“The Pride Center isn’t a traditional AIDS Service Organization,” Boos said. “But over the past 12 years, we’ve worked to identify gaps in service locally, and find creative, culturally proficient ways to meet those needs.”
Best Spiritual Center
1480 SW 9th Ave.
Located in southwest Fort Lauderdale, Sunshine Cathedral is a five-time winner of the Best Spiritual Center category.
Worship services are held Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Billed as a seven-day-a-week church, Sunshine Cathedral offers many faith and social justice based programs. Often described as the church of the “sunny side of life,” Sunshine Cathedral proudly proclaims to be a different kind of church where the past is the past and the future has infinite possibilities.
“We affirm that all people have sacred value and are made in the divine image,” said Rev. Durrell Watkins, Senior Minister.
Watkins and his husband, Dr. Robert Griffin, lead Sunshine Cathedral’s ministry. Griffin, a U.S. Navy veteran, serves as executive minister. As noted in Watkins’ biography by SFGN in last year’s Out 50 issue, Sunshine Cathedral is a “vibrant, thriving, progressive congregation that features blended worship, liberal theology, biblical exposition (likely in new ways that many aren’t used to) and a lot of unapologetic fun.”
The cathedral, 1480 S.W. Ninth Ave, Fort Lauderdale, is part of a campus that hosts artists-in-residence, support and recovery group meetings and ticketed music concerts. Most recently, 500 new cushioned seats were installed in the sanctuary.
Best Sports League
South Florida Amateur Athletic Association
For the third year in a row, the South Florida Amateur Athletic Association won the best sports league category.
Founded in 1994, SFAAA is a softball league that offers LGBT people a friendly place to meet and play outside the culture’s traditional nightlife norms. Today, the league boasts more than 25 teams and nearly 400 members.
“This year’s award is icing on the cake after a great World Series in Portland,” said Tim Martin, SFAAA Chairman. “SFAAA sent seven teams and five finished in the top 10 at our annual national event. We even had a national champion and a national runner-up. I am so proud of our league and this honor.”
Games are played at Mills Pond Park, 2201 N.W. 9th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale. The league is open to all regardless of skill level. A draft and tryout clinic is held prior to the start of each season to determine competitive levels. There are two seasons: One starting in late February and another beginning in early September. The SFAAA’s crown jewel is the annual Hurricane Showdown, a three day tournament held during Thanksgiving weekend.
Best Sports Team
The Felicias are back on top.
One year after being dethroned by Broward Ballbusters in the best sports team category, the Felicias regained their composure and won this year’s contest.
Brian Zilka manages a team of sassy softball champions with a reputation that precedes them.
“We certainly stand out,” Zilka said.
The pink cladded team has taken softball tournaments by storm. Sponsored by Progress Bar, the Felicias are a championship team of mostly gay softball players who travel the country raising spirits with their looks and winning games with their skills on the diamond.
“It’s a group of close-knit friends who use softball to build each other up,” Zilka said. “We like to have fun, but we also really enjoy the charity side of it.”
The team participates in numerous community events ranging from Pride festivals to fundraising walks to end Alzheimer’s. Members often don tutus, heels and wigs – all in the color of pink -- in honor of one of the team’s founders, the late Bob Melilo.
“There is substance to our shenanigans,” Zilka said.
And as the team’s Facebook notes, the Felicias are “dedicated to making sure men in wigs have a safe place to handle balls.”