The Source LGBT+ Center Visalia providing resources for LGBT+ community members of all ages

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Since 2016, "The Source LGBT+ Center Visalia" has been providing resources for the LGBT+ community in both Kings and Tulare County.

It started with an idea -- a community meeting where 30 people showed up and a fundraiser exceeding their $5,000 goal.

Founders Brian Poth and Nick Vargas felt the need for a place where people just like them could feel at home.

"When I was growing up in the early 90s here, I knew I was different from the other boys." Nick explains. "To have a center for Nick back when he was 13-14 would've changed my life."

The 4,000 square feet space at the historic Oval in Visalia is an upgrade from the basement they previously operated out of on Main Street.

Community support and funding has made the expansion possible.

"I think it speaks volumes to the fact that there is a need here. The campus is full every day of the week, we have over 44 programs," says Brian.

Programs aim to provide support, free counseling and community events.

Through school visits, the Youth Program reaches hundreds of students on more than 30 campuses.

Erica Hawkyard, Youth Program manager says, "They still get pushed back but they are not afraid to speak their truth, advocate for themselves and all we do is support that effort."

The Source says they have reached over 50,000 people in person since they started and millions more across its social media platforms.

"That is 5 million people who are hearing a message about equality inclusion, news about LGBTQ issues," says Nick.

Brian and Nick tell Action News the importance of their program is in the lives they are impacting.

Nick shares, "I get to see people's lives saved. I've had people stop me in the streets to say, 'Thank you, because without the support I found at The Source, I wouldn't be here.'"

Their resources are for anyone who walks through their doors. For resources, details and events, visit their website.
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