Metro Weekly

Anniversary Gift

The Center celebrates its first year with the opening of a new cyber center

The Center, ”home for GLBT in metro D.C.,” was counting its blessings Tuesday, March 14, in the company of about 40 well-wishers. The rough count, as blessings go, was two.

”First of all, this is our first year in this space,” Center President Mike Sessa explained. ”It’s been wonderful.” The space to which Sessa referred are offices at 1111 14th St. NW, the first physical manifestation of The Center, which sublets offices to Brother, Help Thyself and the local chapter of Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

The second blessing was the opening of the David Bohnett Cyber Center, a gift from the Los Angeles-based David Bohnett Foundation, named for the gay technology entrepreneur who chairs it. The foundation has opened such computer centers in more than 30 GLBT community centers across the country.

After thanking both the foundation, and its executive director, Michael Fleming, who was on-hand for the unveiling, Sessa noted, ”Not everybody in D.C. has a laptop. Not everybody in D.C. has a computer. The Center is not always for those that have. It’s for those that have not.”

Combined, the Cyber Center’s six computers will offer users Microsoft Office, Internet access, Photoshop, scanning and printing. Starting Monday, March 27, the lab will be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 2 to 4 p.m., and from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays.

While the David Bohnett Foundation’s high-tech gift will help The Center move into the future, The Center’s board also took time Tuesday to acknowledge its past. Particularly, they thanked the Cherry Fund, with special kudos going to Paul Marengo, who chairs the fund as one of several contributions to the community.

”We’re on a journey. That journey would not be possible without Cherry,” Sessa said, thanking the Cherry Fund as The Center’s founding sponsor. The Cherry Fund created The Center with nearly $300,000 in seed money. As for Marengo, Sessa added, ”He’s instrumental in everything.”

Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.