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January 1, 2010


Akron Pride Center to merge with CAN

Akron--The assets of the Akron Pride Center will be merged with the Community AIDS Network in January, essentially ending its existence as a separate entity.

“We have moved the old library and resource room out of the basement of Adams Street, moved all of the other furniture and property out of the Aster location, and put Aster Avenue up for sale,” wrote CAN director Dawn Jones in a letter sent to Pride Center supporters last week.

Jones will direct the combined operation, according to the letter.

The Pride Center occupied space in the building that also houses the Adams Street gay bar, on the Akron street of the same name, from its founding in 1999 to 2006 when a building on Aster Avenue was purchased.

Raffaele A. Vitone, who died in 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.

The Aster property, in the Firestone Park neighborhood, was purchased for $75,000 in the spring of 2006, and the Adams Street location closed with the hope of opening the new one in 2007 after renovations were completed.

However, sufficient funds were never raised and the Aster location never opened. Groups that had met at the old Adams location found alternative homes.

 “Several of the Pride Center groups are now holding their regular meetings at the new [CAN] office,” the letter continued, “and hopes and plans for the future include developing additional groups and convincing others to start meeting here at the building.”

CAN developed as an HIV and AIDS service agency which now administers Ryan White funds and housing opportunities for people with AIDS. It has a staff of six and receives United Way money.

Though one of its paid staffers was a member of the Pride Center board, CAN is not an LGBT organization in practice, nor according to its mission statement.

CAN’s board chair is Nancy Brennan, daughter of charter school magnate and entrepreneur David Brennan. Nancy is the vice president of her father’s White Hat Management, which operates the schools.

The family, including Nancy, contributes heavily to the Republican Party and its local and national candidates, including ones who are openly and aggressively anti-LGBT.

The two groups’ boards of directors, according to the letter, are meeting in January to do strategic planning.




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