By Sharon Gittleman
FERNDALE – Don’t be surprised if your big brother doesn’t call as much as he used to, your dad disappears every Monday afternoon or your best friend drops out of sight on weekends.
They still love you.
They’ve just discovered all the activities available at the brand new Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center.
Drop-in ballroom dance lessons, jewelry making workshops and an LGBT history group are just a few of the options you’ll have to strengthen your body and expand your mind.
Or you may just decide to do nothing at all.
“You’ll be greeted with art and lots of people hanging out, kicking back and talking,” said Affirmations Social and Recreation Coordinator Maureen Jones. “You can go on our rooftop patio and see Ferndale. We even have a meditation nook with reclining chairs and a little fountain.”
People who enjoyed the get-togethers at the old center across the street will welcome the bright new spacious classrooms, well-stocked library and art gallery, each with access for everyone in the community, including people with mobility problems.
“We’re working on expanding our recreation programs,” said Jones.
The library will be the gathering place for the writers’ group get-togethers.
“They will be doing writing exercises and sharing their writing with each other,” she said. “We’ll be talking about our stories as queer people.”
It’s also the spot for book club members to chat about the latest best seller or collect authors’ autographs at the upcoming signings.
Organizers plan to make good use of the center’s location in the heart of the city.
“We’re starting a new supper club called, ‘Dine Out,'” said Jones. “It’s a once a month Friday night thing where they go to restaurants in Ferndale. It’s an alternative to going to the bar.”
The upcoming dances will be another way to meet your intended.
Singles won’t be the only ones who’ll enjoy a visit to Affirmations.
“We’ll have a toddler play group,” said Jones. “We’ll have amazingly fun equipment, anything from parachutes to foam balls, little scooters, things to juggle with and things to climb or climb on.”
Grown-ups will enjoy their own leisure time activities.
Several clubs are planning to hold their meetings in the building, including a women’s Scrabble group, gaming circles and euchre players, she said. Room rentals are available for other associations and organizations.
Film night will be another big attraction, thanks to musical extravaganzas like “Dreamgirls” on the marquee. Jones promises free popcorn for everyone.
“We’ll have a video collection for borrowing classic movies,” she said.
All the action won’t be going on inside the center.
Group bus trips will take people on outings, with shopping excursions to Birch Run and Chicago. Fall color tours and canoeing adventures are just a few of the jaunts under consideration.
Gay Day at Cedar Point is already on the travel agenda for this summer, Jones said.
“They call it the roller coaster capital of the world,” she said. “They have carnival rides and games.”
Sports fans can sign up for off-site leagues or stop by the center for a drop-in basketball session.
“We have a whole array of programs in sports and fitness,” said Affirmations Communications Director Kathleen LaTosch. “We’ll be offering basketball, kickball, pilates, softball, swimming, walking, running and yoga. We’ve teamed up with Team Detroit Aquatics, our LGBT swim team, to offer swim nights at Royal Oak High School.”
Physical activities won’t be your only self-improvement options. A financial planning workshop for domestic partners and a series for healthy relationships for couples will be presented at the center.
“One thing that’s really exciting is we’ve really expanded our helpline,” said LaTosch.
Spanish- and Arabic-speaking individuals will have even more opportunities to find answers to the questions they’re seeking, thanks to the added hours of operation planned for people whose first language isn’t English.
When you visit the new facility, don’t be surprised if the woman sitting across from you over the scrabble board or the man in the next chair watching that hit film is straight.
“We really want it to be open for anyone,” said Jones. “If we get a lot of allies in, that’s a good thing.”
The new center’s hours will be 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., Mon. – Wed., 9 a.m. – 11 p.m., on Thurs., 9 a.m. – midnight on Fri. and Sat.
If you’d like to volunteer in the library or to help out with classes, call (248) 398-7105 ext. 13.
By Sharon Gittleman