by Lorie Lewis Ham
In January of this year, The Source LGBT+ Center in Visalia opened up a brand new campus. Recently we chatted with Erika Hawkyard, their Youth Program Manager, to learn more.
KRL: How long have you been with The Source?
Erika: I have been working at the Source since the beginning of November 2021.
KRL: Can you tell what The Source is and what your focus/mission is, for those who aren’t familiar with it?
Erika: The Source LGBT+ Center was established in 2016. We are the first-of-its-kind queer and trans-led community resource center serving the LGBTQ+ community in Tulare, Kings Counties. Our mission is to provide spaces within our communities for the LGBTQ+ people to Learn, Grow, Belong, Transform, Question + Support.
KRL: Please tell us what the new campus has, and how it is different from before?
Erika: We have moved from a few rooms in the basement of Montgomery Square, to a two building campus. Our new home houses 8 offices, an HIV Clinic, Community Pantry, Trans Closet, PFLAG Library, Youth Center, and Clinician Space.
KRL: Why did you feel that there was there a need for the new campus?
Erika: Our organization has really evolved since we began in 2016, and we simply outgrew our old campus. We used to primarily be a volunteer-led organization, but now we have 13 dedicated staff members working on expanding services and providing valuable resources to Tulare and Kings Counties. As we launch The Source 2.0, we are excited to continue to grow with our community.
KRL: How long did it take for the new campus to be ready, and when did it open?
Erika: We started moving in October; in November, we resumed group meetings, and officially opened the new campus in January!
KRL: What all does The Source do, and what new things can you do now with the new space that you couldn’t offer before?
Erika: We provide peer support, a drop-in center, youth programs, activities, leadership development, HIV/HCV resources and testing, family support for parents of LGBTQ+ youth, recovery services, and a vibrant Transgender Resources Program. We now have a dedicated youth space where kids are free to be their most authentic selves. Our trans closet, which used to be an actual closet, is now an entire room. The new campus also has a Food Pantry for the community. Most importantly, we have been able to expand our drop in services, the community is welcome to drop into the center from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
KRL: I understand you have some great events coming up for the youth can you tell us about that?
Erika: We have a Ghost Hunt with Porterville Ghost Society on March 11 at 8:00 p.m. Links to register for these events can be found on our link tree linktr.ee/lilsourcerors.
KRL: Any other special events coming up soon?
Erika: We had Drag Queen Bingo on February 20, and it will be back on May 28 and again on July 24 so keep checking our social media to keep up with events. We also have a Mental Health Convening on April 13 at the Woodlands. This convening will bring together mental health professionals for a day long learning. In October, we have AIDS Walk Visalia and Pride Visalia on October 8 and our Halloween Bash on October 29. People interested in our events should follow our social media or contact nick@thesourcelgbt[dot]org.
KRL: Where is it located?
Erika: We are at 109 NW 2nd Avenue, right across from the oval. If you see a rainbow flag, you are in the right place.
KRL: Anything else you would like to share?
Erika: If you are interested in learning more about The Source, please visit our website www.thesourcelgbt.org. Want to learn more about the youth program or have questions about upcoming youth events please email youth@thesourcelgbt[dot]org.
There is also going to be a Trans Day of Visibility BBQ on March 26. Join us in celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility at The Source Campus! We will have food and fun activities to enjoy outdoors! TDOV is a day to celebrate with our community and we want you there! PLEASE register through the tickets button on the Facebook event page so that we can ensure we have plenty of food for everyone that comes. Open to all ages. Any questions please email Spencer at spencer@thesourcelgbt[dot]org