A new home
Akron Pride Center�s building to be ready in early 2007
Akron--The Akron Pride Center has a new home, although it may be close to a year before the building is fully functional.
Raffaele A. Vitone, who died on January 9, 2002, bequeathed over $50,000 to the center�s parent Akron Area Pride Collective on the proviso that the money be used to buy or build a new home for it within five years of his death.
Four months ago, the collective purchased a building at 1501 Aster Avenue in the Firestone Park neighborhood for $75,000, and closed the center�s Adams Street location.
Board chair Doug Santurri said the decision to shutter the old location while the new one is still being renovated was strategic one. It allows the group to spend the old space�s rent on work at the Aster Avenue building, a 1929 one-story storefront with 2,400 square feet over a similar-size basement.
P-FLAG Akron provided the remainder of the purchase price, so the Pride Center�s mortgage is held within the community at what Santurri described as a longer-term loan with very low interest.
He anticipates another six to eight months of fundraising before they will have all the money they need for the renovations, based on the current rate of cash flow, and then it will be another month before an architect can submit drawings to the city.
Once the city approves them, it will be two or three months for the work to be completed.
In the meantime, the groups that meet under the Pride Center�s auspices are staying with friends and family.
The youth group, for instance, is meeting in the Highland Square area, although they will be thrilled to come home to their new digs.
�I know the youth group is excited to have their building back, and when the new building is done, they will have a space all their own that they can decorate and meet a couple times a week,� Santurri said.
In addition to keeping the social and support groups going, the Day in the Sun community picnic will still be held, although a little later than usual this year.
Pine Valley Lake Park was sold for residential development, making the former home of the picnic unavailable, so the Akron Area Pride Committee had to find a new location for this year�s event.
However, the Out in Akron Cultural Festival will again be in early- to mid-October, from October 6 to 15, with a hate crime vigil on National Coming Out Day October 11, Cabaret Q and the Queer Shorts Film Festival.
Santurri said the Pride Center is also moving forward with a �revved-up volunteer program and new programs.�
�I wish we didn�t have to close the center for a year, or not have a physical location for a year,� he said, but noted that when it was all said and done, the Akron Pride Center would have �a professional-looking building that�s done right and is accessible to the whole community.�
While the road ahead may seem daunting, the longest miles of that road have already been traversed--finding a building and removing what was no longer needed.
Volunteers from the community have already taken out four trash containers of wood, wall and carpet from the Aster location.
�It was good to see the community come together to help us out,� Santurri said.
For more information on upcoming Akron Pride Center events and fundraisers, or to volunteer or help with fundraising, go to www.akronpridecenter.org.