The Thornhill Lopez Center on 4th Opens its Doors

By Megan Wadding, May 2018 Web Exclusive.

In January, the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation (SAAF) announced its newest project: A center to house the nonprofit’s LGBTQ youth-centered prevention programs, including Eon, HIV Youth Peer Education (HYPE), and Arizona’s Life Links for Youth (Project ALLY).

As a result, the ribbon cutting of The Thornhill Lopez Center, a 5,500 square-foot youth center in the heart of Tucson’s Fourth Avenue District, took place Jan. 18.

This project is the most-recent initiative being funded through a $1.8 million capital campaign which began in March 2016 and has raised more than $1.5 million, to date.

Curtis Thornhill, a Tucson native who now calls Salt Lake City “home,” has provided the lead gift for the campaign and has challenged SAAF to raise an additional $300,000 by the end of March 2017.

“I was born in Tucson and grew up in southern Arizona,” Thornhill stated. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love and support of amazing mentors who have guided and challenged me to reach my full potential. The Thornhill Lopez Center on 4th is an opportunity to equip a new generation with the same gifts.”

The Thornhill Lopez Center on 4th will provide a safe space as well as skills-building, advocacy and culturally competent care to LGBTQ youth and their allies ages 13 to 26.

“Since taking over many initiatives from Wingspan, southern Arizona’s LGBTQ community center for more than a quarter century, two and a half years ago, we here at SAAF have searched for the right way to re-launch LGBTQ programming in Tucson in a sustainable way that was directly responsive to community needs and immediately addressed gaps in services” said Wendell Hicks, SAAF executive director, in a press release. “The Thornhill Lopez Center on 4th will do just that. We are so fortunate for the support of Mr. Thornhill as well as the nearly 100 other donors to the campaign, so far.

Michael Lopez, associate director of LGBTQ prevention services.

The Center will be open Monday through Friday, after school from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., and every third Saturday of the month. To oversee operations, SAAF has hired Michael Lopez as the associate director of LGBTQ prevention services.

“In his new role, Michael will serve as a liaison for LGBTQ community groups and will also oversee SAAF's LGBTQ youth prevention programs,” according to a SAAF press release. “We are grateful to SAAF's board of directors, who approved the allocation of funds two years ago to begin implementing LGBTQ initiatives in our community with a development focus. Through the creation of the new … role, we are excited to now direct our efforts on the expansion of LGBTQ programs at the Thornhill Lopez Center on 4th.”


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