CHARLOTTE — Q-Notes reported last issue that the Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Community Center is fighting an uphill battle to survive. Since that article, amidst reports of employee turmoil, Center manager Linda Davis has been laid off and Executive Director Laura Witkowski has submitted her resignation.
“It is with enormous amounts of sadness and regret that I submit my letter of resignation as executive director of The Lesbian and Gay Community Center effective Feb. 1, 2007,” Witkowski wrote in a letter to Center Board President Joe Campos, dated Jan. 9.
“To the community,” Witkowski continued, “do not take The Center for granted any longer. This is an organization in it’s infancy in many ways … it often feels like this community is thrilled The Center exists, but that many don’t feel the need to support it because they don’t feel they ‘need’ it. To those who don’t feel they need The Center, I ask you: how many non-profit social service organizations would cease to exist if only the population they served supported them?”
According to Campos, the situation at The Center has improved somewhat since Q-Notes last covered the issue. With staff cutbacks impacting operations costs and volunteers keeping The Center open, little may seem to have changed to the general public. “Things are better,” says Campos. “We are moving in a more positive direction.”
That may be so, but there’s still the specter of decreased donations, increased rental rate for the building and a sizable debt hanging over The Center’s head.
“It’s somewhere around $35,000 to $40,000,” says Campos. “Large, but not overwhelming.”
The financial problems at The Center came to light this past summer while fundraising efforts were underway for the newly revamped PRIDECharlotte festival. A separate bank account was opened for PRIDECharlotte, although the PRIDE Task Force and The Center both had access to the funds.
On more than one occasion, without previous notification, The Center removed money raised from the account for the PRIDE celebration to cover expenses such as payroll, utilities and even rent. The funds were later replaced, but it quickly became evident that The Center was facing financial issues.
In total, PRIDECharlotte raised over $67,000, of which almost $48,000 was used to produce the highly successful event held at Gateway Center this past Aug. 26.
After expenditures were covered, Just under $14,000 of the profits were donated to The Center, while $5,000 was left for PRIDECharlotte to use as seed money for this year’s event.
That donation was just a drop in the bucket for the operational budget of The Center.
According to Denise Palm-Beck a newly appointed board-member for The Center, there does seem to be some confusion about how to keep the ship up and running.
“We’re trying to get a firm grip on the expenses,” she says. “I have an emphasis on fundraising. We’re trying to get a handle on fundraising, find out who has contributed in the past and assess where the center is now. Then we want to look at whether or not the Center is meeting the needs of the community.”
According to Palm-Beck, who has a successful history in fundraising, The Center faces some challenges in cashing on grants that might be readily available to other non-profit, community-based organizations.
“Just because of the very nature of what the Lesbian and Gay Center is, the political climate cuts off some of your funds. We have to face facts that some of the funds are not going to be available to us from organizations out there and that there are a finite number of individual financial donors.”
At press time, plans were being put in motion to hold a moderated community town hall meeting that would include Campos and the board available to take questions and brainstorm with the community. That event is slated for Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. For more details call The Center at 704-333-0144.
Q-Notes, community organizers and The Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Community Center, debuted PRIDE Charlotte on Aug. 26 at the city’s Gateway Center.
According to organizers — and the 6,000 in attendance — the event was an unparalleled success. The PRIDE Charlotte Task Force extends a heartfelt thanks to all sponsors and the over 100 volunteers that took part.
Listed below is PRIDE Charlotte’s financial report for last year’s event.
Task Force Contributions $3,271.33
Vendor Fees $6,610.00
Fund Raising & Other $14,103.25
Total Receipts $67,600.58
Vendor Fair $5,871.45
T Shirts $3,364.33
Total Expenditures $47,813.23
Net Gain $19,787.35
House of Mercy $1,000.00
Lesbian & Gay Com. Ctr. $13,917.35
Total Contributions $14,917.35
Balance on hand for
PRIDE ’07 $4,870.00