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Center on Halsted's South Side location holds open house
by Vern Hester
2022-08-27

This article shared 1776 times since Sat Aug 27, 2022
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On Aug. 25, the new Center on Halsted's South Side site, at 6323 S. Cottage Grove Ave., opened its doors for an open house to welcome community members and potential partners.

The hub, which is in a storefront of the historic Strand Hotel, is rented by Center on Halsted and is aimed at providing HIV outreach and testing as well as community services in one of the most underserved sections on the South Side. The hub has already partnered with five LGBTQ+ organizations with a strategy to reduce the transmission of HIV in this area, which has seen the highest rate of new infections, according to Chicago's 2020 HIV surveillance report. Talks with other LGBTQ+ partners are ongoing, as are plans for training programs and the probability of hosting community activities in the future.

Although the Center on Halsted pays the rent, this hub is managed and run by South Side residents who are familiar with the needs of the local population. Center on Halsted Executive Director Modesto "Tico" Valle told the Chicago Sun-Times, "It's important for us that, in places, we need to lead ... or we need to follow, and here we follow."

Taskforce Community Services Executive Director Chris Balthazar added, "It's about making sure that the programs that they offer meet the needs of the folks that live in that community and that it reaches them in a way that fits with their culture."

Center on Cottage Grove Managing Director Betty Adkins said that there are five organizations that have partnered with the hub, with a host of ongoing discussions happening with other groups. Each of the participating partners is aimed at a different demographic in the LGBTQ community, including ALMA Chicago, for the Latinx community; Affinity Community Services, for Black women; TaskForce, for young adults and the trans community; TPAN, for older adults; and the Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus, for Black men.

The Caucus has been holding meetings at the Center since June as Balthazar is in continuing talks with Adkins on having community activities like mini-drag balls. The Center also features an array of art by Black queer artists.

One volunteer who was especially happy to see this new center open was Adkins' 80-year-old mother, Barbara. She said, "You have no idea how happy this makes me. When I was growing up, everyone was in the closet. I'm so glad to see this change in this big city. When I saw the Pride Parade this year, I felt sad for the many people I've known who couldn't do this."


This article shared 1776 times since Sat Aug 27, 2022
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