Non-profit raises money for LGBT shelter, community center

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- A non-profit organization is stepping up its efforts to establish a safe space for people in the community that identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

Since the start of this year the Chippewa Valley LGBT has started raising funds to open a community center downtown.

They say the ultimate goal is for the center to be a place of support and shelter for those who need it.

The game of BINGO usually mean fun and prizes but for the Chippewa Valley LGBT organization the game serves as a way to raise money for a space that will ultimately bring help and support to the local LGBT community.

“I have a few friends that recently went through breakups and their families said if you would stop hurting yourself or stop being gay you wouldn't have to deal with this,” Chippewa Valley LGBT board member Jason Bennett-Hardy said.

Bennett-Hardy says after hearing more than half-a-dozen stories of people living on the street because of their sexual preference the group decided to ramp up efforts to open up a community center and emergency shelter.

“A lot of the shelters in this community will accept people in there but there sometimes are restrictions that make it more difficult,” Bennett-Hardy explained.

Bennett-Hardy says the non-profit used to have a location on Eau Claire’s north side but had to close three years ago because of a lack in funding. Now after a change in leadership the group is pushing to reopen a location in downtown.

“When I was 18 I wasn't out yet and I’m sure there are a lot of people that are in that situation,” Dan Bennett-Hardy said. “This is someplace they can go they can say ‘I’m gay’ and we aren't going to judge them and we can help them through that process.”

The group says their goal is to raise $13,000 through their monthly BINGO fundraisers and other events.
The hope is that would cover one year's rent for a community center and shelter. They say the hope is to have that money raised by the end of this year.

The next BINGO fundraiser will be held June 11th at 6:30 PM at Pizza Plus in Eau Claire.

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