Queens Pride House 15th anniversary speech (9.27.12)

Queens Pride House 15th anniversary celebration
27 September 2012
Pauline Park
president and acting executive director

On behalf of the board of directors and staff of Queens Pride House, I would like to welcome you to the celebration of our 15th anniversary. Queens Pride House  is the only lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community center in the borough, and we do our best with limited resources to serve the community in its full diversity. Queens Pride House serves thousands of clients a year and conducts health support, education and referral programs, youth training, and cultural and social programming. We have a youth group and a transgender support group and we host a support group for translatinas; we have both an English-speaking and a Spanish-speaking men’s group, and the Grupo Espanol is here in force~! And we provide space for many outside groups to meet as well.

We decided to use our 15th anniversary as an opportunity to honor Selena Blake, Ross Levi, the Rev. Charles McCarron, Daniel Cano and Voces Latinas for their contributions to the LGBT community. Selena Blake is a documentarian who directed the film “Taboo Yardies,” about homophobia in Jamaica. As executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, Ross Levi led the organization’s successful campaigns for the Dignity for All Students Act and the state marriage equality law, and he has since joined Governor Andrew Cuomo’s team as vice-president for marketing initiatives in the business marketing division at Empire State Development (ESD), New York’s chief economic development agency. Rev. McCarron was the first executive director of Queens Pride House, serving as an unpaid volunteer in that capacity in 1997-98. Since 2004, he has been executive director of Episcopal Community Services of Long Island. Daniel Cano interned at Pride House and then stayed after his internship to conduct a series of workshops on positive psychology; he just finished his associate’s degree at La Guardia Community College and is now starting his first year at Hunter College of the City University of New York (CUNY). Voces Latinas will be honored for their work with immigrant Latinas in Queens living with HIV/AIDS and those at high risk for HIV/AIDS.

And we’re delighted to have Raphael Miranda as the master of ceremonies for our anniversary benefit. An openly gay man who lives with his husband and two cats in New Jersey, Miranda is the weekend meteorologist and weather producer for NBC New York; he can also be seen on the digital channel New York Nonstop.

This event would not have been possible without the generous support of all of you as well as our sponsors and advertisers, including: the Ali Forney Center, APICHA community health center, Armondo’s Italian Restaurant, Connie Idavoy and Bum Bum Bar, the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, Chayya, Dignity-New York, the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, Harlem United, the Lambda Literary Foundation, the Latino Commission on AIDS, the New Immigrant Coalition for Empowerment (NICE), the Rev. Joseph Pae, Eddie Valentin, SAGE (Senior Aging in a GLBT Environment), Sullivan Street Press, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF). And our individual donors, including: Mercedes Cano, Fernando Gomez, Winston Lin, Otton Nielsen, Lilian Nieves of PRIDE, Charles Ober, Bryan Pu-Folkes, Alfonso Quiroz & Jeff Simmons, Mark Sullivan Roy, Itala Rutter & Toni Olivera, and Richard Wandel. And I’d like to thank the Out Hotel for generously donating a gift certificate.

I would also like to thank our board and staff. Our board members include Audie Edwards (vice-president), Sara Gillen (secretary), Itala Rutter (chair of our development & fundraising committee), and Kleber Jalon (chair of our audit committee). And our hard-working staff, including Michelle Abdus-Shakur (our program coordinator & office manager), Carlos Cubas (our outreach coordinator), Juan Almonte (our fiscal assistant), Rene Vazquez del Valle (our director of clinical programs), and our four new social work interns.

A few people I would especially like to thank are our new fundraising assistant, Monica Lewis; our chief financial officer and board treasurer Charles Ober, who is the only member of the board in continuous service since our founding in 1997; and who, along with me, is the only original co-founding member of the organization still directly involved in its operations. And Jonathan Acevedo, our volunteer designer, who designed most of the ads in the program journal.

If you find it in your heart — and wallet — to offer an additional donation, please do so. You can also buy copies of my CD of piano music (“Barricades Mysterieuses) for $20 each; all proceeds go to supporting the work of Queens Pride House.

And if you haven’t already done so, please sign our mailing list so we can keep you abreast of our many activities. The next opportunity you’ll have to support our work will be our holiday party, which will be held at Queens Pride House on Dec. 6. Between now and then, we will have a Halloween party at the end of October (date to be determined). Please ‘like’ us on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on Twitter. Thank you all again for your support~!



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