Karen Foley, a licensed counselor, couldn’t find anywhere in Lancaster County that she could refer her LGBTQ+ clients so they could connect to a larger community for support.
“If I could connect my clients to a community, half of my work would be done,” she said.
So Foley decided to open a community drop-in center herself.
The Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition has been organizing small events and offering classes from its headquarters at The Candy Factory in Lancaster city for the past few months, but the organization is officially announcing its formation at today’s Lancaster Pride event at Clipper Magazine Stadium.
The nonprofit 501c(3) organization will advocate for the health, rights and visibility of the people it serves throughout the county, Foley said.
The organization will have programming, educational events and opportunities for connecting in a safe space, she said.
As part of a soft opening, the organization held a healthcare mixer where local doctors who are LGBTQ+ or allies could connect with the community earlier this week.
“As a therapist, I find that knowing who I can refer my LGBTQ+ clients to that I can trust to be understanding, accepting, and affirming of their identity is crucial to providing good patient care,” Foley said in a press release.
The coalition also held a town hall on Thursday attended by state Reps. Mike Sturla, of Lancaster, Carol Hill-Evans, of York, and Patty Kim, of Dauphin County.
Currently, there is no existing non-discrimination legislation that protects LGBTQ+ people statewide. The coalition will be committed to connecting with legislators to work on that issue, Foley said.
The new coalition will officially open its doors with full services in October.