Allentown’s Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center held a mortgage-payoff ceremony Nov. 20, to celebrate being one of a small number of LGBT centers that owns its building mortgage-free.
At the community center’s 2019 Fall Gala on Oct. 30, Air Products offered a $25,000 challenge grant. Ninety-three community members came together during a 15-minute donating blitz, facilitated by GiveLively, to crowdfund the additional $25,000 necessary for the Bradbury-Sullivan Center to pay off its mortgage. A live display of donor gifts was on-screen, and each donor contributed an average of $311.
About 50 people attended the mortgage-payoff event held at the Bradbury-Sullivan Center last week. Speakers included Denise Spivak, the CEO of CenterLink, the community of LGBT centers, who flew in specifically to help mark the event; Laurie Hackett, director of community relations at Air Products; Adrian Shanker, executive director of Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center; and Jeffrey Albert, president and CEO of People First Federal Credit Union.
At the event, a large check was presented to Albert and People First Credit Union, the mortgage servicer, marking the end to mortgage payments.
According to the 2018 National LGBT Community Center Report by the Movement Advancement Project, less than 25 percent of LGBT centers in the U.S. own their buildings. Even fewer are mortgage-free.
The Bradbury-Sullivan Center purchased its building in 2015, achieving such a rarity in only four years.
Shanker said, “We are so appreciative of the support from our community that made it possible for Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center to become mortgage-free.”
Having the building’s mortgage paid off will allow the Bradbury-Sullivan Center to funnel more resources into the services it offers the region’s LGBTQ community, like youth programming, hiring staff and doing more social media and marketing outreach, Shanker told PGN last month.
The executive director’s remarks at the ceremony included an acknowledgment of Transgender Day of Remembrance and the 23 trans and gender-nonconforming people who lost their lives due to anti-trans violence in 2019. Shanker also told a story familiar to many LGBT folks.
“Earlier today, I received a phone call from a court-appointed special advocate. She is working with a 15-year-old LGBT student from the Allentown School District whose parents threw him out of the home when he came out,” he said. “She called because she wanted to know if there were any services we could offer that would make this teenager’s life a little easier. I shared with her that a full-third of our building is dedicated to LGBT youth programs, offered every day after school. I let her know that we have staff in our youth program that can work with her client to help navigate him to the support systems he needs. I let her know that we are here to help.”