Public meeting on Rainbow Center invites ideas

Posted 9/18/19

Jefferson County Pride is inviting the community to bring ideas, comments, criticisms and questions about a new LGBTQ teen center to a public meeting 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 18 at the Port Townsend Community Center.

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Public meeting on Rainbow Center invites ideas

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Jefferson County Pride is inviting the community to bring ideas, comments, criticisms and questions about a new LGBTQ teen center to a public meeting 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 18 at the Port Townsend Community Center.

The group is hoping to get a large attendance from teens themselves, to hear what their vision for the teen center—dubbed the Rainbow Center—could be, said Emelia De Souza, chair of Jefferson County Pride.

“Since the loss of the Boiler Room, there is no designated ‘safe place’ for youth, especially LGBTQ youth,” De Souza said. “This will be a safe place for youth ages 14 to 24 where they can be their authentic selves.”

The group plans to start by opening the Rainbow Center one night a week, on Mondays from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Port Townsend Recreation Center.

With a $1,000 grant from the Port Townsend Rotary Club and fundraising over $5,000 at the Jefferson County Pride celebration last July, the group has raised enough money to oeprate that way until February.

Eventually, they hope to rent the kitchen space as well, so they can provide meals, De Souza said.

Throughout the year, they plan to host Rainbow Bingo events to continue funding rental of the room. But currently, they are looking for more donors and more volunteers to get the center on its feet.

“We need a lot of help,” De Souza said. “The spirit is there, but we are looking for donors to keep this thing going.”

The organization has applied for a $10,000 grant with the Pride Foundation that they are hoping to receive to keep the center open for an entire year.

De Souza said the group hopes to offer health and mental health services information from Jefferson Healthcare at the Rainbow Center, too. And the center will partner with Olympic Community Action Programs to offer services for homeless youth.

“We received a Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program grant that will roll out in October, focusing on ages 14 to 24 experiencing homelesseness,” said Samantha Troxler, a housing coordinator at OlyCAP. That project includes a focus on LGBTQ youth because they’re disproportionately affected by homelessness, she said. Troxler said OlyCAP plans to provide staff to assist at the teen center as well as other supportive services to connect LGBTQ youth with assistance for housing if they need it.

Troxler will be at the public meeting on Sept. 18 to provide more information on the program and will also be seeking youth to participate on an advisory board.

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