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Affirmations is about to open its new, magnificent community center in downtown Ferndale. After years of struggling to provide quality programming in a substandard facility, the LGBT community of southeastern Michigan will finally have a center that we can all be proud to call our home.
This project has been a dream of community leaders for decades. They have longed for a center like the ones in Los Angeles and New York. Well now we have the bragging rights to having the largest LGBT community center outside of those two mega-centers.
Arriving at this moment has been no small task. Unlike the community center that will be opening in Chicago later this year, heavily supported with public funds from the city, all of the $5.3 million raised for the new Affirmations center is coming from private funds. It has taken five years of hard, focused work by Leslie Thompson, executive director, the board of directors, and the incredible building committee and capital campaign committee. They raised money, met with the architect, selected the builder, oversaw the construction and dealt with the million and one details that comprise a project this complex and extraordinary.
This is a moment to be proud and to celebrate. We all deserve to be excited by this beautiful new building, the success of the capital campaign, and the impact the center project has had in overall fundraising and support among the LGBT communities of Michigan and our allies. This new center will make a huge difference in how the LGBT community in greater Detroit perceives itself, and how others perceive us.
Affirmations has transformed itself as an organization and is giving the community a tremendous gift. It wasn’t all that long ago – maybe seven years – when it looked like Affirmations might not even make it. Financial ruin and organizational chaos reigned. The visionary leadership of the board, Thompson, and the people they attracted brought the center back from the brink of ruin. The capital project has raised the center to new heights. It is an incredible accomplishment and one that deserves our appreciation and support.
So when you go into the new center, which we encourage you to do as soon as it opens, take a minute to thank the board, staff and volunteers of Affirmations. They have created a new home, a new image that reflects the beauty, strength and possibilities of our burgeoning LGBT community right here in Michigan.