NORFOLK — On Monday, March 21, the LGBT Life Center announced that it will receive a sizable grant, which will support the Center’s efforts to provide expanded services for residents of the Hampton Roads Peninsula, including those in the Historic Triangle.
The Norfolk-based Center was founded in 1989 and is now considered a trusted leader for the local LGBTQ+ community and those affected by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The Center’s mission is to empower those they serve by improving health and wellness, strengthening families and communities, and providing transformative education and advocacy.
The grant, which will total $1.8 million in funding, will allow the Center to renovate and open a center in Hampton, which will expand its medical and support services for Peninsula residents. It currently serves 300 individuals on the Peninsula through preventative programs. By opening the Center, this will now allow for LGBTQ+ residents and those living with HIV on the Peninsula to access services closer to home.
“LGBT Life Center has actively been providing services on the Peninsula for many years, but without appropriate service center facilities,” said CEO of LGBT Life Center Stacie Walls in a statement to WYDaily. “This project gives us the opportunity to expand our services and create a ‘one-stop shop’ opportunity for culturally affirming services and healthcare for LGBTQ persons and people living with HIV on the Virginia Peninsula. It’s been a goal for us to have a ‘forever home’ on the Peninsula for several years and we are grateful for the support to make this happen.”
According to Tyler Neal, marketing and public relations manager for the Center, of all of the new HIV diagnoses in Eastern Virginia during 2020, 27.9 percent were from the Peninsula, which represented 10.3 percent of all diagnoses in the Commonwealth. Additionally, 22 percent of individuals living with HIV in Eastern Virginia are residents of the Hampton Roads Peninsula. Neal also notes that the Peninsula saw more new cases of HIV diagnoses in 2020 than either Virginia Beach or Norfolk.
It is noted that this new facility will allow for improved community health outcomes while offering a safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals living on the Peninsula.
The grant, which received support from Congressman Bobby Scott (Va.-03), Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), was made possible after the U.S. Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2022 spending package.
“As we emerge from pandemic and work to overcome all the mental and physical challenges that came with it, it’s more important than ever for folks in the LGBT community to know that they are not alone,” said Sen. Warner in a statement to WYDaily. “The LGBT Life center plays a crucial role in Hampton Roads by providing young people with invaluable support and a strong sense of community. That’s why I’m proud to have personally secured $1,800,000 for the center to continue reaching some of our most vulnerable communities.”
Also providing support for the Center’s expansion is City of Hampton Mayor Donnie R. Tuck.
“We are pleased that after providing services to the LGBTQ+ and HIV+ community on the Peninsula for over 25 years, the LGBT Life Center has found a permanent home in Hampton,” said Mayor Tuck to WYDaily. “Because of the federal appropriation of $1.8M, they [LGBT Life Center] will also be able to offer expanded medical and mental health services, and health and wellness education, disease prevention, and other culturally affirming programs.”
According to Neal, while the Center is currently going through the government funding process, it already has a building in Hampton and anticipates construction to begin in a couple of months. While there is no hard date yet, the Center anticipates for the Hampton location to open by the end of 2022.
For more information or to learn more about how you can make a financial gift towards the expansion, please visit the LGBT Life Center’s website or call (757) 640-0929.