By Maricela de Rivera
Walk through the doors of LGBTQ Center Long Beach and you’ll find some things you’d expect - rainbow flags aplenty. You’ll also find a friendly, relaxing, and harmonious atmosphere that longtime client and Older Adult Services volunteer Antonia Allison, MFT, loves.
“Years ago, I enjoyed The Center for what it stood for in the community,” recalls Allison as she talks about frequenting the beloved non-profit since the 1980s. “I love it now because I am a senior. I see the effort that goes into serving seniors. In many places getting older means returning to the closet - via assisted living, living with adult children or other relatives, or getting help from charitable mainstream organizations. At The Center, we are respected, supported, and encouraged.”
Allison’s favorite thing about The Center is just being there. Whatever takes her through the doors, from leading a free class or participating in an activity, “It’s like I can find books I read 40 years ago or new books. Pulling one or four off the shelf is normal. The library is so extensive and the feeling is so comfortable, I can just sit there and read without anyone
Pre-pandemic, Allison began teaching free alcohol ink mindfulness meditation classes as one of the Older Adult Services programming. “It was so much fun, but then the pandemic came. The Center worked hard because we were all isolated. For a class like mine, you think how people won’t be able to participate without supplies.” Allison smiles recalling, “The program manager made sure everyone had the appropriate supplies for this very specific art medium. Even during a pandemic, variation of income didn’t matter.” Realizing this meant that, even
over Zoom, she and her friends could carry on with class and stay connected because, “All the necessary things were personally, and at safe distance, delivered to each senior.”
“I remember I used to like the bingo they offered. But then I couldn’t make it anymore during those times. Now that it’s online, we don’t get to walk over to lunch after events, but we stay connected at The Center.” Closing her eyes and smiling again, Allison muses, “How lucky
are these seniors to have this resource?” As The Center makes preparations to open back up, we foresee Allison and her peers gathering, laughing, and being in community together again.
Want to donate, to ensure supplies for the Older Adult Program and many other departments are available? Visit centerlb.org and look for that bright green Donate button on the top right.
The LGBTQ Center Long Beach advances equity for LGBTQ people through culturally responsive advocacy, education, programs, and services. We envision fully affirming communities where all LGBTQ people live in health, wellness, safety and prosperity. Learn more at centerlb.org.