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Learn more about the new LGBT Center now open in Kissimmee

Posted on Friday, August 10, 2018 at 8:00 am

By Rachel Christian

Staff Writer

A new center offering free HIV testing, classes and other resources for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community has now open in the heart of downtown Kissimmee.

The arrival of the LGBT+ Center Kissimmee has been months in the making.

Osceola News-Gazette photo by Rachel Christian
LGBT+ Center Kissimmee Director of Operations Sally Berverena and Board Executive Roxy Santiago let their colors fly on the first opening day of the new LGBTQ resource facility in downtown Kissimmee Aug. 8.

More than $75,000 in grants and private donations made the facility a reality and LGBT Center President George Wallace said he’s excited to finally open the Kissimmee office.

“The community has been great and extremely supportive,” he said. “They’ve told us from the beginning how much something like this is needed in Osceola County, so we’re happy to be able to provide it.”

Wallace is president of The Center’s Orlando location on Mills Avenue, the oldest homosexual resource facility in the city. The new venue in Kissimmee is the first branch location for the more than 35 year-old nonprofit organization.

The Kissimmee Center will feature free HIV and hepatitis C testing five days a week along with classes on things like financial literacy and youth support groups.

St. Cloud resident Sally Berverena will serve as the location’s director of operations. The center has received an outpouring of volunteer inquiries over the last few weeks, but Berverena remains the only new hire for the Kissimmee location.

She comes to the position with a background in education, something she wants to nurture at the Center Kissimmee, especially for young adults.

“We have a resource center that we’ll be filling with books, and we’re hoping to empower young people here through classes and counseling to become the next generation of leaders,” Berverena said.

The Zebra Coalition – a nonprofit group assisting young people facing homelessness, bullying, isolation from their families and abuse – will occupy a room at the Center Kissimmee as well, helping strengthen the youth connection even more.

The Center Kissimmee is located in a building previously occupied by a marketing firm and on the same block as Kissimmee City Hall. County commissioner, Realtor and LGBT community member Cheryl Grieb worked closely with Wallace to help find the non-profit group a location in Kissimmee.

“I think they’re going to have a great response and may even need to move to a larger building the near futures,” Grieb said Tuesday. “But it’s a great, centralized location and a great place to start.”

Berverena concurred, noting that the center will assess how well the space is working after six months.

The small venue is expecting a big turnout of over 250 guests at the Center Kissimmee’s ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday evening. Local politicians like Grieb are expected to attend, as well as U.S. Congressman Darren Soto. An open house will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. where visitors can tour the new facility and learn more about what it has to offer.

For more information, visit www.thecenterorlando.org/kissimmee.

If you go… to the LGBT+ Center Kissimmee’s ribbon cutting ceremony

Where: 21 W. Monument, Ave., Kissimmee

When: 6 to 8 p.m.

What: A ribbon-cutting ceremony for Kissimmee’s first major LGBTQ resource center. There will be guest speakers, light bites, refreshments and an opportunity to tour the facility after the ceremony ends.

Cost: Free

To learn more: Visit www.thecenterorlando.org/kissimmee or their Facebook page, LGBT+ Center Orlando – The Center

 

For information about The Center Kissimmee

Facility opens: Aug. 8

Testing Begins: Aug. 13

Hours of operation:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Wednesday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

HIV and Hep C Testing Hours

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: Noon to 5 p.m.

Wednesday: Noon to 8 p.m.

 

CUTLINE

Osceola News-Gazette photo by Rachel Christian

LGBT+ Center Kissimmee Director of Operations Sally Berverena and Board Executive Roxy Santiago let their colors fly on the first opening day of the new LGBTQ resource facility in downtown Kissimmee Aug. 8.