GEAR presents scholarships, awards

GEAR, the Resource Center’s transgender program, presented awards and scholarships on Saturday at the 2014 GEAR Awards Reception to some of its members. San Francisco Human Rights Commission Executive Director Theresa Sparks spoke to the attendees, who numbered about 100.

Wendy Marsden won the Katherine Walton Award for service.

“I had a rough time of it, and I wanted to pay it forward,” Marsden said as she accepted her award.

Katie Sprinkle began a legal clinic to help trans people navigate through the legal issues they will deal with. GEAR coordinator Blair High said the only other city with something comparable is New York. Sprinkle was also given and award for service to the community.

The next GEAR legal clinic is Wednesday, April 2. Anyone who would like an appointment should call 214-540-4498 to reserve time for a free 20-minute session with Sprinkle, who is an attorney.

Ann Marie, who started a job clinic for GEAR members, was also given a service award. The unemployment rate is exceptionally high in the trans community, and many members lose their jobs as they begin to transition.

Ally awards were given to American Specialty Pharmacy and Dr. Patrick Daly. The pharmacy set up a scholarship program to cover the cost of hormone therapy for two GEAR members. Daly runs a monthly clinic for GEAR and works with trans patients in his practice.

Despite some gloomy statistics, Sparks gave an optimistic talk about being your authentic self. Although trans people face high unemployment rates, face family rejection, are harassed in public accommodation and by the police and 41 percent have attempted or contemplated suicide, “Things are getting better,” Sparks said.

She cited a recent legal case that was decided and rules that trans people can’t be discriminated against in federal jobs. The Affordable Care Act made health insurance available to many trans people for the first time. The Department of Justice published nationwide training curricula for police on trans issues. In California, a new law allows trans students to use the bathroom, join a fraternity or sorority or a sports team for the gender they identify.

After Sparks told her story of going from CEO of an international corporation with thousands of people working for her to taxi driver after she transitioned and then back to another CEO position before heading the Human Rights Commission, she gave some advice.

“You can be who you are,” she said. “We need to come out to ourselves and love ourselves. Embrace it. You’re a very special person,” she said.

—  David Taffet

Pegasus Square Dance Club is back after decade dance break

Square dance

Members of Pegasus Square Dance Club dance during an organizing meeting in February. Weekly lessons at Resource Center begin March 9 at 2 p.m. and are open to the public. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

After a 12-year hiatus, LGBT square dancing is back.

Alan Josephson said several people from Dallas connected last summer at the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs Convention.

“It took a few months to identify a caller and locate a place to meet,” he said.

He explained that in square dancing, there’s a boy’s part and a girl’s part, but in gay square dancing, everyone gets to choose which part they want to dance. He encouraged people who aren’t usually great dancers to participate because square dancing doesn’t require much foot work.

“It’s fun and social,” Josephson said, “with lots of gay flourishes.”

A 10-week series of dance lessons begins at Resource Center on March 9 at 2 p.m. The first two afternoons are open dances. The full series of lessons are $90, but no one will be turned away because of ability to pay.

Josephson said square dancing is great exercise and is good for partners or singles, and the trans community participates in big numbers.

“There are more trans people in square dancing than I’ve seen anywhere in community activities,” Josephson said.

So does Josephson usually dance the boy part or the girl part?

“I’m bidancial,” he said.

More information at Pegasus-Squares.com.

—  David Taffet

Dallas City Council approves resolution

Photos by Steve Ramos

—  Steve Ramos

Resource Center and Fairness Fort Worth ask reps to protect LGBT elderly

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Cece Cox

Resource Center and Fairness Fort Worth reached out to Rep. Marc Veasey and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson to add LGBT-specific protections to Medicaid’s Home and Community-Based Services programs for seniors. Veasey represents U.S. District House 33, and Johnson represents U.S. District House 30.

The National Senior Citizens Law Center issued a report in 2011 that found LGBT seniors often went back into the closet to protect themselves in healthcare facilities. Many endured verbal and phyical abuse by other residents and staff.

RC’s CEO Cece Cox and FFW’s President David Mack Henderson asked Veasey and Johnson to encourage HHS to amend its rules to protect LGBT seniors.

Their letter is below:

RC FFW

 

—  David Taffet

Insurance navigators will be at Resource Center on Saturday

GetCoveredResource Center teams with Planned Parenthood and Get Covered America to provide healthcare insurance assistance on Saturday at the Resource Center.

Navigators will help anyone needing help find a policy that is complaint with the Affordable Care Act.

Andrew Greenberg, coordinating the event for Get Covered America, said the navigators will help find insurance through the marketplace or direct people to Medicare or Medicaid, if they qualify.

Those covered at work who do not qualify for federal subsidies for their insurance, but have a partner taking advantage of DP benefits may qualify for a subsidy and receive comparable benefits at a lower out-of-pocket price.

Bring the following information:

If you desire to speak with a navigator, please bring the following:

• Birth certificate or U.S. passport

• Photo ID (driver’s license, state ID card, military ID card, school ID card)

• Social Security card

• Proof of income (paystub, income tax return, letters from Social Security)

• Employer insurance information (if applicable)

The event takes place at Resource Center, 2701 Reagan St. on Feb. 15, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Anyone who can’t attend or has additional questions about the event may contact Andrew Greenberg at 972-345-4591 or by email.

—  David Taffet

Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS distributing assets this Saturday

Lone Star Ride 2010Need a tent? Water? Want a Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS keepsake like a T-shirt or jersey? All of those items, and more, will be distributed free.

Lone Star Ride Board President Jacque Borel sent this message to all former Lone Star Ride participants — riders and crew.

The Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS has reached the end of the road, but there are a number of items stored in the LSRFA storage facility which may be of value to previous riders and crew.

The storage unit, at 4641 Production St., Unit No. 25, will be unlocked from 10 a.m. until noon this Saturday, Feb. 8, so that former participants can pick up whatever supplies and equipment they wish.

The storage unit must be emptied by the end of February, so all materials which remain after this Saturday will be either donated or otherwise disposed of. If there are questions, please contact Jacque Borel, board chair.

Production Street is off Lucas Avenue between Maple Avenue and Harry Hines Boulevard in Oak Lawn.

The beneficiaries have already been to the storage locker and gotten whatever they can use. Items include camping equipment, bottled water, rakes, brooms, bike racks, ice chests, jerseys, shirts and a variety of other memorabilia.

Borel assures us that the tents do not come equipped with the rocks that always seemed to be strategically placed under each and every tent during the ride.

A number of items of historical importance will be donated to the LGBT archives at University of North Texas.

—  David Taffet

Resource Center receives grant from Elton John foundation

Elton John

Elton John

The Elton John AIDS Foundation awarded Resource Center a $38,000 grant for its Latino HIV/AIDS outreach and prevention program, Valor Latino.

The grant will support existing services including a monthly social support group for Latino gay and bisexual men, Spanish language prevention materials and advertising.

Resource Center CEO Cece Cox said she was grateful to the EJAF for its support.

“HIV/AIDS disproportionately impacts the Dallas-area Hispanic community and Valor Latino is actively leading efforts to reduce HIV infections,” she said.

In 1996, the Center established the first HIV prevention program to target Latino gay men in Dallas. Valor Latino is a comprehensive HIV prevention program offering bilingual and culturally appropriate education, outreach, counseling, testing and referral services with a focus on Latino gay and bisexual men in North Texas.

In 2012 and 2013, Valor Latino tested 1,627 Latino gay and bisexual men. Just over 4 percent of them tested positive. More than nine out of 10 of those diagnosed with HIV now receive medical care and services.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Latinos are the racial/ethnic group most likely to receive late diagnoses.

Since 1992, the Elton John AIDS Foundation has raised and distributed more than $300 million for projects across the globe focusing on HIV prevention, harm reduction, community health and human rights empowerment campaigns, stigma eradication, and compassionate public policy development.

In 2013, EJAF granted $7.3 million.

According to its website, the 21 new and 35 renewal grants support organizations working to address some of the most critical challenges presented by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States and the Caribbean.

Resource Center has received this grant for Valor Latino each year since 2011. Other Texas organizations received funds from EJAF including Out Youth and Migrant Clinicians Network in Austin, International AIDS Empowerment of El Paso and Houston’s St. Hope Foundation and AIDS Foundation Houston.

—  David Taffet

Resource Center, other agencies announce limited holiday hours

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The Resource Center food pantry received a large donation from the Dallas Museum of Art

Resource Center’s food pantry will be open Dec. 18-Dec. 20  from 9 a.m.–2 p.m. and will be close Dec. 23–Jan. 1.

“All clients are currently shopping for two weeks because of the holiday,” Resource Center spokesman Rafael McDonnell said. “If people wish to donate to the pantry, our biggest area of need is canned protein with pop-top lids — tuna, chicken, chili, Spam, etc.”

The Resource Center itself will be closed Dec. 24-Jan. 1. The last lunch served by the hot meals program will be on Dec. 23.

Legacy Counseling

Legacy Counseling Center will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as well as New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. However, Executive Director Melissa Grove said in case of emergencies, call the hotline number, 214-207-3953. Through the holiday period, the Walk-in Clinic will operate, but Grove asked anyone using it to call ahead.

AIDS Arms

Trinity Clinic will close at 3 p.m. on Dec. 24 and will be closed Christmas Day. The clinic will close at 3 p.m. on Dec. 30 and will be closed Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.

AIDS Interfaith Network

AIDS Interfaith Network will be closed Dec. 25–27 and Jan. 1.

The Daire Center will close on Dec. 24 and because of the agency move will not re-open until the end of January. The exact re-opening date will be announced later.

—  David Taffet

Harold Simmons Foundation donates $600K to Resource Center capital campaign

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An early artist’s rendering of the new center on Cedar Springs and Inwood roads.

The Harold Simmons Foundation donated $600,000 to the Resource Center’s capital campaign, center officials announced Tuesday.

Serena Simmons Connelly, director of philanthropy for the Harold Simmons Foundation, said that this is the only large gift ever made by the Harold Simmons Foundation to an LGBT cause beyond supporting HIV/AIDS.

She added this gift “takes it to a different realm of basic human rights of our gay and lesbian fellow citizens. I feel hopeful about Resource Center being a place for families and the issues of youth and seniors – a place where people move into a healthy life.”

Resource Center CEO Cece Cox said in a statement that “the generous investment from the Harold Simmons Foundation moves us closer to ensuring that LGBT youth have a space free from bullying, that families and seniors are supported, and that persons living with HIV are cared for.”

Resource Center demolished a strip mall on the corner of Cedar Springs and Inwood roads last April for the new building.

The original cost of the building was $12 million, but decreasing the size of the new facility lowered the cost. Cox said $5 million of the $8.7 million goal has been raised and groundbreaking is planned for January 2015.

For more information on the capital campaign, contact Chief Development Officer Cameron Hernholm at 214-540-4421 or chernholm@myresourcecenter.org.

—  Anna Waugh

Federal cuts to food stamps and upcoming holidays put more pressure on food pantry

Fedex

FedEx delivered 65 bags of groceries to the Resource Center

FedEx came to the aid of the Resource Center Food Pantry this week with 65 bags of groceries collected at a company food drive.

Resource Center spokesman Rafael McDonnell said more canned goods are coming from the North Texas Food Bank now that the government is reopened.

But despite continued support from the community, Resource Center is bracing for upcoming cuts in food stamp programs while preparing for the holidays.

Thanksgiving is approaching and with it come holiday comes special needs.

Daniel Sanchez, who runs the hot meals program and the food pantry, said he needs 14 turkeys for holiday meals. He wants to make sure clients can take food home for the long weekend. He said there’s plenty of room in the freezers to store the turkeys. He said he hoped a few groups, companies or individuals would each buy a couple of birds for the holiday meal.

In addition, he needs extra volunteers to prepare, set up, cook and serve on Nov. 25–27. anyone interested should call him at 972-786-5685.

McDonnell suggested another way to support the pantry was for a group, company or individual to sponsor a shelf. They’d make sure the pantry was constantly stocked with a particular item by either purchasing it themselves or with a steady cash donation.

Sanchez suggested groups could sponsor a lunch for the meals program anytime. He said a chicken fried steak lunch for about 50 people would cost $200, a taco bar for $150 or a ham casserole for $50. He also suggested sponsoring an ice cream bar for dessert, which he said he can do for $30.

McDonnell said he’s bracing for two upcoming cuts to food funding from the federal government. The 2009 Recovery Act ends Friday, meaning cuts to the Food Stamp program. The average decrease in benefits is $11 per person. The proposed farm bill that’s been stalled in Congress will also cut money for food stamps farther.

He pointed out that each cut puts further pressure on the food pantry. Most food pantry clients receive food stamps.

—  David Taffet