Growing From The Center

By Liz Massey, November 2017 Issue.

Just months after a devastating fire at their previous location, the LGBTQ youth support organization one•n•ten opened its new Youth Center, located inside the Parsons Center For Health & Wellness at 1101 N. Central Ave. in downtown Phoenix.

The organization, which provides services to LGBTQ youth and young adults ages 14-24, had been operating out of unoccupied space at the Parsons Center since shortly after the July 12 arson fire that severely damaged their previous building.

However, the new location officially opened for business in Sept. 20 with a ribbon cutting ceremony – attended by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and other local and LGBTQ community leaders – followed by a reception and tours for those in attendance.

Right to left: Rachel Sherman, Sarah Kent, Sam Castro, Robbie Fields and Eva Siler hanging out at the new one•n•ten Youth Center.

Although the organization was able to salvage very little from the Third Street location following the fire damage, Linda Elliott, one•n•ten’s executive director, attributed the fact that construction was already underway on the new youth center with their success in continuing services for youth without interruption.

“If we hadn’t had plans in the works, we would have had a big scramble to keep going after the fire,” Elliott said.

The center has provided a springboard for the organization to expand their services to youth on a number of fronts.

The move to the Parsons Center was made possible thanks to a $275,000 grant from the Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation. That grant, along with additional grant monies, have allowed one•n•ten to shape the youth center’s 5,000-square-foot location into what Elliott called a “hub” for LGBTQ youth support activities throughout the Valley.

Co-locating at the Parsons Center, which is across from the Roosevelt Street light rail stop, means that youth will have easy access to a number of the center’s other tenants, including the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS, the Phoenix chapter of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), McDowell Healthcare Center and Avella Specialty Pharmacy. Elliott said that this will enhance collaborations among the organizations, such as HIV/AIDS prevention programs and other health promotion efforts.

Right to left: Dani Logan, Joel Mills, Kado Stewart and Wallace Hudson at the new one•n•ten Youth Center's check-in desk.

“It’s going to be a great collaborative space and a true community center,” she said.

Elliott and Stewart emphasized that youth served by one•n•ten were an integral part of the planning process for the Youth Center. Elliott noted that because of youth and parent input, the organization decided to expand the age range it serves. Because queer youth are coming out at younger and younger ages, the Youth Center will accept now participants as young as 11 years old. As a result of this decision, support group programming will be divided into nights for youth ages 17 and under on Thursdays and for young adults aged 18 to 24 on Fridays.

The LGBTQ and allied community also played a key role in the opening of the new center, according to Stewart. Since the fire in July destroyed most of the organization’s physical assets, the new location has been stocked with furniture and supplies gathered through a donation campaign that went viral on social media. Stewart said that the youth served by the center were greatly encouraged by the community response.

“It’s provided a renewed sense of hope,” she said. “Given the political climate of the past year, it’s been beautiful to see the youth and the community to step up to help.”

As one•n•ten settles into the new Youth Center space, Elliott said it would soon be time for the organization’s board to craft a new five-year strategic plan, as their previous plan has reached the end of its five-year timeline.

“I think we’ll discover new activities and programs we can offer our youth,” she said. “We have more space, more resources and a more convenient location … I’m excited about how we can better serve all LGBTQ youth.”

Stewart agreed, and said, “Youth coming into the new center have the  most amazing smile on their face when they see our new space. Many of our youth have been a part of creating our new center, alongside the community and staff. It’s great to see the smiles on their face when they realize what we’ve all created together.”

For more information on one•n•ten, its new Youth Center or its programs, visit .

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