Phoenix Center to look at needs of Jacksonville LGBTQ community

Phoenix Center is conducting a couple of focus groups to determine the needs of Jacksonville’s LGBTQ community.

The meetings will be Sunday at The Soap Co. Coffee House, 207 S. Sandy St. A session geared to youths ages 12-17 will be at 3 pm, while a session for adults will be at 5 pm The center held similar sessions Tuesday in Carlinville.

Those interested in attending should email Jonna Cooley, Phoenix Center executive director, at [email protected], or [email protected] Participants who register will receive a $25 gift card.

The center already has a presence in Jacksonville, Cooley said.

“We’ve been providing services there for years,” she said. “We do mobile outreach and offer free HIV testing and other services. If they can’t make it to Springfield, we can help.

“With new grant funding we may be able to extend some needed services into these areas. The sessions are designed to discover what services, support and education are needed and what is already in place. Potentially, we could bring services there. It just depends on the community needs and the information we gather in these meetings.”

Phoenix Center’s mission is to support Central Illinois’ LGBTQ community with programming that promotes equality, health and well-being, and social and educational growth. The center offers various services, training, social and educational events and transitional housing.

It was founded April 1, 2001, by a group of LGBTQ teens who wanted to create a safe place to meet. Initially, meetings were held in a garage and later at a church. Eventually, a board of directors was formed and the agency became a nonprofit.

The center bought its current building at 109 E. Lawrence Ave. in 2005. Since then, services and groups have expanded extensively.

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