With $100,000 in funding from State Senator Tony Avella, the organization will continue to grow its presence and reach in the borough.
Avella joined LGBT Network CEO David Kilmnick last Wednesday for a tour of the LIC site on Northern Boulevard. Kilmnick said the state grant will help increase services related to bullying and health services.
“A lot of times, we see resources from our State Senate go to just Manhattan,” he said. “Keep it in the borough, keep it home where the community needs it.”
The need for services in borough’s LGBT community is great. Since the Q-Center launched, the organization has welcomed more than 1,000 people through it doors.
The LGBT Network started an HIV testing program two weeks ago, and in one day 18 people came in for testing.
The LGBT Network is also quickly expanding its team in Queens. The group started out with three full-time staff, and currently has seven. Kilmnick anticipates having 14 full-time staff over the next year.
“No one should have to travel into another borough to be themselves, to get the services they need or to feel safe and inclusive,” Kilmnick said. “We’re already seeing a big difference just by having the center here and providing services.”
Kilmnick said the center has become a community hub, where local grassroots group meet. The Q-Center has even hosted committee meetings for the Department of Health.
The organization, which also operates at three sites in Long Island, isn’t done growing in Queens. Kilmnick said they plan to open another center in Jackson Heights in two-and-a-half years. In that time, they will also seek to open a site in the Rockaways, where Kilmnick grew up.
In the meantime, the LGBT Network will continue to offer services to youth, adults, immigrants, trans communities, and others.
The organization already has a presence in three dozen schools in the borough, combating bullying of LGBT students by providing workshops and trainings. They also help start gay-straight alliance clubs in the schools.
In May, the LGBT Network organized its first-ever youth summit, which they called the Get Justice summit, bringing together 200 students at CUNY Law School. Kilmnick said they helped train the youth on their advocacy and engagement skills on issues of sexual and reproductive justice.
The group also addresses specific communities that may need services. Kilmnick said they’ve heard about Korean elders in Bayside who have struggled with coming out. The LGBT Network will spend the next several months developing and launching an initiative for that population.
“What I think is starting to happen is folks are starting to see that Queens doesn’t have to follow,” Kilmnick said. “Queens can lead.”
Avella said even though the LGBT Network doesn’t have a physical location inside his northeast Queens district, he recognized the need for these critical services throughout the borough.
“I know it will be put to good use,” he said.