NEW BEDFORD — Some photos and news clippings stood on display at NB-AGLY on Pleasant Street.
“We don’t want our kids to forget,” said Traci Welch, one of four adult advisors of the center for the alliance of LGBTQ youth and the secretary and events coordinator for the South Coast LGBTQ Network.
Some young teens don’t know that same-sex marriage was illegal, she noted. The center serves youth age 14 to 24.
“We can’t forget where we came from,” she said. “Don’t take it for granted because tomorrow can be gone.”
The center is opening up its doors to the community Thursday for an open house, its first in a couple years. The center will be part of AHA! Night for the first time from 5 to 7 p.m. at 484 Pleasant St.
“It’s amazing that we’ve been here for six years and people still don’t know we’re here,” Welch said.
More than 100 youth are connected to the center through Facebook, but when it's open, Welch said anywhere between five and 30 visit. Since the center is run by peers with adult supervision, people need a youth invite to be welcomed in. Those interested in becoming a member can contact the center through its Facebook page: NB-AGLY-Allies of A Perfect Place.
“It’s a growing space,” she said.
The center is open on Thursdays to provide education to its youth on topics like homelessness and mental health, Welch said. The center plans to have a 10-week course on how to handle finances and budget money and hopes to update a few computers for students to use after school.
Wednesday is a diversity event for National Coming Out Day from 6 to 9 p.m. at Slainte Irish Pub at 34 Union St., hosted by South Coast LGBTQ Network. There will be food including music from DJ Bri and all ages are welcome. Donations from the night are to go toward SouthCoast Pride slated for June 2.
The event is “to get the community together to understand that we have allies,” she said.
A few years ago, the center lost two youth to suicide, Welch said.
However, she considers the group lucky to have local leaders that have been inclusive.
Pride Cafe, previously at The First Unitarian Church is now hosted at the youth center every Monday from 7 to 9 p.m. Community members 18 and older are welcome to attend and don't need a peer invitation.
Later this month on Oct. 21, youth ages 14 to 24 are invited to a Halloween dance from 7 to 10 p.m. at The First Unitarian Church.
“Our community needs an LGBTQ center and this is the start,” Welch said.
Follow Aimee Chiavaroli on Twitter @AimeeC_SCT.