Max Disposti | North County Update
After more than three years working as a Coalition, in December 2011 the North County LGBTQ Resource Center opened its first location. Since the first few months of operations, the safe place for north County LGBT people was soon renamed “The Little Center that Could.” Almost twenty thousands people have walked through our doors demanding services, help, understanding, advocacy, and of course, a safe place to meet people and feel at home.
Thanks to the extreme efforts of over 100 volunteers, including support group facilitators, mental health providers, HIV testers and counselors, services started immediately and for free. This effort has spurred so much community support that official government relations have suddenly improved and school districts, the local police department and County service providers all wanted to reach out.
However, to be the only North San Diego County LGBT presence for the community at large — there are two other Pride centers located within Palomar College and Cal State San Marcos serving the student population — is a huge responsibility and it comes with a price. The price is literally the cost of running such an operation but also the fact that for almost anything that happens here around LGBT issues, the Center is responsible for that.
In fact, despite the still-scarce funding, we were able to expand our little place from 1,000 square feet to 1,400 square feet and double our operational budget from $70,000 in 2012 to $145,000 in 2013.
Yet, because North San Diego County has a population of over 800,000 people sometimes all our efforts feel like a drop into the ocean. In fact, while the City of Oceanside has increasingly stepped up to be a more diverse and inclusive community when it comes to recognizing the presence of our LGBT families in politics, social life and business, it is not the same for the North County inland area. Here LGBT visibility is still at risk and relations with government offices and school districts are very challenging and even nonexistent.
Getting the word out
Unfortunately, there are still thousands of LGBT people living in North County that do not even know that our LGBT Center exists or even understand the work we do and how it is changing the quality of life of so many LGBT people in our area.
This is why, for the second year, the North County LGBTQ Resource Center has organized a Town Hall meeting on January 31, at the Oceanside Community Rooms, located at 300 North Coast Highway near the Oceanside Library.
At this public meeting all our financial resources are disclosed and so are our investments in the community. We will collect public feedback but also share our successful ideas of creating community, including how to be part of the future by joining our board of directors, volunteering, or by becoming a Community Partner. In addition, the Town Hall meeting will be a great opportunity to thank and recognize all of our fantastic volunteers that make the North County dream a reality every day. For more info, call 760-994-1690.
—Max Disposti is a human rights activist, a community organizer and the founder and executive director of the North County LGBTQ Resource Center. He has also served on Oceanside’s Community Relations Commission for several years and is a real estate broker in his spare time. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.