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Pride at Equality Park for the Fort Lauderdale LGBTQ Community

By Kelly Church

Founded by a philanthropist who desired a safe place for the LGBTQ community, The Pride Center at Equality Park is the result of 23 years of service in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Chief Operating Officer Kristofer Fegenbush says The Pride Center mission is to celebrate, nurture and empower not only the LGBTQ community, but also the rest of the south Florida community. One of the organizations biggest goals is tackling HIV: reducing the spread of the disease and helping those with it manage.

"A paramount goal for The Pride Center is the reduction of HIV transmission in the community," Fegenbush says. "Our comprehensive prevention initiatives combat HIV transmission and improve the quality of life for those impacted by the epidemic. The Center is equally committed to ensuring that all persons living with HIV in Broward County are linked to and retained in HIV care. We save lives. HIV testing is one cornerstone of this legacy."

The Pride Center has an award-winning HIV Counseling, Testing and Linkage program. For the past 11 years, the organization has been testing more than 600 people each month. In 2015 alone, more than 6,700 at-risk individuals were tested. For those living with HIV, the organization connects more than 2,000 people with support programs. To prevent the spread of the disease, The Pride Center offers community outreach programs including educational seminars, condom distribution, prevention counseling, and connecting them to healthcare.

"Over the last year and a half, because of programmatic success, we have received increased funding focused on communities of color, including Latinos, African-American heterosexuals, and gay and bisexual men," Fegenbush says. "We have expanded HIV counseling and testing, condom distribution, healthcare linkage services and culturally-competent locally-developed interventions focused on these populations. We have expanded outreach and education services."

The Pride Center also has the most LGBT services for seniors than any LGBT center in the country, according to Fegenbush. These services include weekly events such as wellness workshops, fitness classes, job skills courses, a speaker series and health seminars specifically geared towards seniors. Fegenbush says that since the senior program has started incorporating services that address everyday needs including housing, healthcare and financial planning, attendance has boomed.

The organization has also made it easier for members of the LGBTQ community to find the right healthcare, establishing a directory of healthcare professionals that are ideal for LBT women. With more than 300 providers included, the directory ensures providers have shown "cultural competency," allowing LBT women to feel safe, understood and comfortable visiting their practitioners.

The Pride Center hosts events throughout the year, raising community awareness and bringing members of the LGBTQ community together. Visit The Pride Center website to find an event, meeting or service and find out how you can join The Pride Center family.

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