Pacific Center: 41 Years of Serving our Community

June 11, 2014 in inQueery

Pacific Center for Human Growth is the third oldest LGBT community center in the nation. We have been honored and respected nationally for the longevity and quality of our programs. We are an organization born from, built on and maintained by volunteers. To this day, we are mostly volunteer-staffed.

Our inception story starts in Oakland. After a gay bashing had occurred in 1973, men who were tired of going to bars as the only way to socialize with other gay men decided to create a peer support group instead. They first met in a room above the Bishop’s Café in Oakland, near Lake Merritt. Women soon began to start social and support groups of their own and the decision was made to join together and file as a registered non-profit organization. The organization’s original name was East Bay Gay, but the IRS would not accept the word “Gay” on the 501(C)3 not-for-profit application. Bypassing the institutional homophobia at the time, The Pacific Center for Human Growth was officially founded on April 7, 1973.

In 1978, the organization moved to its current location and began providing mental health services and many additional support groups. An information hotline, called the “Lavender Line,” was started and began handling requests nationally. Soon, a Speakers’ Bureau started going to local schools in the hopes of reducing bullying and providing positive role models for youth. Later, when the HIV epidemic began to affect our local community, Pacific Center was one of the first organizations in the Bay Area to offer mental health counseling specifically for people living with HIV.

Today, we are the only LGBTQ agency in the entire East Bay with the sole mission of offering mental health programming and training.

Our Mission
“Pacific Center for Human Growth’s mission is to foster and enhance the well-being and self-respect of LGBTQ youth, seniors, and adults through the delivery of LGBTQ competent mental health and wellness services, and to increase access to LGBTQ competent mental health services through the cultivation of a strong community of LGBTQ-proficient mental health care professionals.”

Because of our many dedicated volunteers, we are able to put together projects like our intro video above and other creative pursuits, such as the blog you are reading now. (Check out this interview we conducted at the Lake Merrit Farmer’s Market about queer families.) We also rely on them to help us put on events, assist our clients and visitors and direct people to the resources they need if they are something we do not provide. Our peer groups, another core program, is also peer and volunteer-run.

We are always looking for people who want to volunteer their time and become involved with our community. We are the ones who must continue to support one another and anything helps!

Pacific Center is open Monday through Friday from 10am to 9pm. Come by and see us!

This video about Pacific Center history and services was produced by UC Berkeley students, Spencer Maley, Zane Hadi, and Alli O’brien under the guidance and direction of Leo Brown, Facility Rental and Volunteer Coordinator.