By Emelina Minero
The LGBT Community Center of the Desert, commonly known as The Center, is a great example of what LGBT centers should aspire to. The Center, located in downtown Palm Springs, is the only LGBT non-profit community center in Eastern Riverside County, and it is connected to and at the center of everything LGBT in Palm Springs.
What makes The Center stand out, aside from their outstanding programming, is the community involvement and the large number of volunteers. The community members make The Center what it is, a safe and supportive environment. The Center offers 41 programs covering the spectrum of the LGBT community: gay men, lesbians, transgender people, bisexuals, youth and elderly.
The Center has a low-cost counseling clinic. Their services are affordable and on a sliding scale. They offer individual counseling, couples counseling and a grief support group. For more information or to make an appointment, call Robert Van Dyke, Intake Coordinator, at their confidential Counseling Service phone number: 1-760-416-7899, menu option 1.
The Center also hosts different recovery support groups. Their free AA support group is on Thursdays from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Desert Cities Crystal Meth Anonymous, a fellowship of men and women whose lives are controlled by drugs, particularly crystal meth, hosts meetings on Sundays at 6:00 pm in Room A, Wednesdays at noon in Room C and on Fridays at 7:30 pm in Room B. The Center also hosts a free Narcotics Anonymous Support Group on Wednesday evenings from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm. There’s also a free Prostate Cancer Support Group for gay men and their allies on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month from 4 pm to 5 pm, and a free Men’s Sexual Dysfunction Support Group on the second and fourth Saturday of each month from 10 am to 12 pm, as well as a Bisexual Men’s Support Group the second Thursday of each month from 7 pm to 8 pm, and a free Trans Counseling Group the second Tuesday of each month from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
The Center has partnered with the Eisenhower Medical Center and offers an array of presentations and workshops through that partnership. The Center has also partnered with existing organizations that help lead some of the workshops and events. The services, presentations and workshops they offer: HIV testing, Health Care and You, A Gentle Way to Yoga, Fit After Fifty, Let’s Get Better Together, Seated Wellness with Lynn Simonson, Tai Chi, Coed Softball, Spiritual Meditation & Mediumship and Great Outdoors Palm Springs.
The NestEgg Food Bank provides nutritional assistance for seniors and people with disabilities. Every Thursday evening, all year long, they host a clean, safe and accessible Food Bank that provides free groceries for up to 275 households each week. Since 2008, the Food Bank at The Center has been providing fresh produce, baked goods, meat, canned goods, dairy and more to low-income Riverside County residents 55 years of age or older, and to individuals who receive disability benefits, regardless of their age.
SAGEWorks is a course specifically designed for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults who are unemployed or underemployed. People of all ages may apply, but applicants 40 and older who are Center members will be given preference. This is an eight week course designed to provide in-depth instruction on how to increase your competitive edge in the job market. The course covers job skills training, software proficiency, resume writing, interviewing and job search strategies.
The David Bohnett Cyber Center is a free resource for Center members to have computer and internet access on a drop-in basis. The David Bohnett Cyber Center also serves as host to the SAGEWorks program for seniors, and hosts other courses, including One on One Computer Instruction, QuickBooks training and Computer Technology and Instruction.
The Center also offers an array of social and educational programs, including: Trans Palm Springs Collective, Desert Womyn’s Writing Group, Conversational Spanish, Big Fun Lesbian Potluck, Lend a Paw, The Writers Group, Desert Fetish Authority, Legal Aid Clinic, Introduction to Bold Watercoloring, Men’s Chat Group, Intermediate Bridge, Palm Springs Leather Order of the Desert (PSLOD), Take PAWS to Care – food drive for hungry pets, Pinochle – Open Play, Beginning Spanish, Open-Play Bridge, Men’s Dining Club, Beginning Bridge and Rainbow Humanists. You can also check out The Center’s annual events here.
The Center has a vibrant community of women, and they’re dedicated to enhancing outreach and creating more programs to engage women. The Women of The Center have an active Facebook page where they list social events.
The Center thrives from the support of the community. Help The Center thrive by volunteering, donating or becoming a member. Drop by The Center at 611 S. Palm Canyon Dr, Ste 201, Palm Springs, CA 92264. You can call The Center at 760-416-7790 and email The Center here. You can also find The Center on Facebook (thecenterps.org).