In addition to a growing number of deaths and long-term illnesses, the COVID-19 crisis is also affecting how groups struggle to regain a semblance of normalcy as the world opens up.

From electricity to groceries and COVID prevention measures, everything costs more, including holding meetings.

As part of its reopening plan, The Pride Center at Equality Park raised the rates it charges for meeting space. Many groups that used The Center, pre-pandemic, said they were being priced out. Our Fund Foundation (OFF) is stepping in with help. They are giving money to offset the new costs for health, wellness, and support groups that call The Pride Center home. 

“The health and wellness of South Florida’s LGBTQ+ community is Our Fund’s primary concern,” said Our Fund President and CEO David Jobin. “Many in our community were concerned that new rental rates would cause some groups to seek lower rental agreements at facilities outside of central Wilton Manors at venues that may not be hospitable to LGBTQ+ clients. We are proud to help remedy the situation.” 

The new costs reflect higher prices for staff, security, utilities, cleaning, and sanitation.

“We want those seeking support to find a safe, welcoming home at The Center,” says The Pride Center at Equality Park CEO Robert Boo. “The Pride Center subsidizes and helps underwrite the costs of groups that meet on campus. We always have, and always will.”

Boo says restarting in-person meetings, which were stopped for more than a year, is vital.

“Our Fund’s donors want to provide for people in need. Having face-to-face support is vital for so many in our community, those who are isolated and those needing life-saving community connection.” 

“We understand that The Pride Center needed to adjust fees,” said Jobin. “Both to bring equity among the diverse groups renting space and to help offset the many expenses that The Center has invested in rental spaces in recent years to greatly improve security, safety, air conditioning, sanitation, cleaning and COVID protocols. It is Our Fund’s role to see if philanthropy might provide a solution that allows individual health and wellness support groups to continue to pay the rates they have for many years.”

To help solve the cash crunch, Jobin reached out to local LGBTQ+ philanthropist Michael Kalb, who stood up and helped out.

“The Pride Center is a key institution in Broward County and making rental space available to support groups is a core component of their services,” said Kalb. “Along with Our Fund, I felt compelled to help ensure that members of recovery support groups can continue to attend regular, in-person meetings to receive uninterrupted, vital peer support and treatment at a place where many in the recovery community have met for many years.”