Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Center dedicated
Spring snow showers predicted for April 9 had Executive Director Adrian Shanker concerned that inclement weather might keep the Lehigh Valley community away from the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center.
Fortunately, despite the snowflakes, well-wishers packed the room, plus most of the first floor, two art galleries, library and front entrance lobby of the former warehouse that had been converted into a law office at 522 W. Maple St. (in the vicinity of Sixth and Hamilton streets), Allentown.
The 1,300-square-foot building, purchased for $340,000 in 2015, and named in honor of Lehigh Valley LGBT activists and partners Liz Bradbury and Patricia Sullivan, serves the needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in a five-county area. Bradbury, an award winning author, is Training Institute Director and Sullivan is President of the Board of Directors.
Denise Spivak, Senior Director of Programs & Outreach for CenterLink, was emcee for the grand-opening. The international organization she works for assists in building and sustaining LGBT centers.
“If there is any question whether our global community still needs support, we need to look no further than North Carolina and Mississippi to remind us that there is still intolerance, misunderstanding and hate in the land of the free,” she said. “Adrian Shanker decided that when this organization set out to create a center, he wanted to be part of this network.”
After Board Chair Barb Baus said a few words of gratitude, Spivak read a letter of congratulations from United States President Barack Obama. A video message was viewed from Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Mike Stack.
Elected officials presenting remarks included State Sen. Pat Browne (R-16th), State Rep. Peter Schweyer (D-22nd) and Lehigh County Executive Tom Muller.
Elected officeholders attending included State Reps. Ryan Mackenzie (R-134th), Mike Schlossberg (D-132nd) and Danny McNeill (D-133rd).
Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski read and presented a proclamation to Shanker celebrating April 9 as “Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center Appreciation Day.”
Said Shanker prior to the ribbon-cutting. “I’ve wanted to have an LGBT community center in Allentown since my first week as a student at Muhlenberg College …” He went on to thank the six founding donors and six capital donors who provided the major funding that made the project financially viable.
Once the building was purchased, according to Shanker, “More than 300 volunteers contributed more than 3,100 volunteer hours painting walls, scraping glue off the hardwood floors, cleaning the building and preparing it for use as a community center.” Several area businesses and organizations provided funding, materials and volunteer crews to help with the project.
Among services at the center are a library of LGBT literature, two art galleries; free HIV and STI testing in partnership with the Lehigh Valley Health Network and Allentown Health Bureau; a bereavement support group; an LGBT alcohol and drug addiction recovery group, and quarterly “Adoption Cafes” in partnership with Pinebrook Family Answers. Gay-Straight Alliance advisors, funded by a grant from Crayola, will meet quarterly at the new center.
Programs include the “Sunday Afternoon Social,” a monthly cultural event series open to the entire community, and a quarterly “Guest Speaker Series” with talks on “cutting-edge LGBT topics.”
Computers will be available for use in signing up for healthcare and other online services. Rooms are available for local not-for-profits in need of work or meeting space.
Not-for-profits housed in the new center to help with LGBT needs include Turning Point of the Lehigh Valley, Pride of the Greater Lehigh Valley, and Lehigh Valley Humanists. Make the Road Pennsylvania, an organization that works for justice for low-income Latino immigrants, will be moving into a four-office suite in May.