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JustUs ATL marks one-year anniversary

JustUS ATL

After being fired from a well-paying restaurant job, Lance Berlin, who is transgender, was unsure what to do. Then he took a hike up Stone Mountain with members of JustUs ATL.

“That’s when I decided to get involved with the community,” said Berlin, 25, who believes he lost his job due to his gender identity.

Now working at a Midtown gay bar, Berlin has made organizing with JustUs ATL a major part of his life. He feels the organization is critical for all youth, especially for trans-identified youth like himself.

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LGBT Rush Center expansion underway

Doug Carl at the Rush Center

The Phillip Rush Center, Atlanta’s LGBT community center, is negotiating to expand by 1,700 square feet, but organizers need to raise another $48,000 in the next six months to complete renovations on the new event space and additional offices for community organizations.

About 100 people attended a March 30 reception at the Rush Center to learn about plans to rent a space in the building located directly behind the current facility on Edgewood Avenue in Candler Park.

Donors pitched in $31,000 that day, including two $5,000 anonymous donations as well as many smaller donations, to help secure that new space and help with its build out.

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Phillip Rush Center to unveil expansion plan

Rush Center

Since the Phillip Rush Center’s inception, organizers have shied away from using the term “community center” to describe the Candler Park LGBT facility where dozens of groups meet and numerous town hall forums have been held.

Several attempts at an LGBT community center in Atlanta had failed and Linda Ellis, executive director of the Health Initiative, and Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, administrators of the Rush Center, wanted to avoid any kind of “curse” the title may have.

But now Ellis and Graham, after conducting a strategic planning process, are embracing the term because, well, that’s what the Rush Center has become.

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East Point Possums raise $5,000 for Rush Center

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The final numbers are in and the East Point Possums will soon be presenting a check for $5,000 to the Phillip Rush Center.

The entire event raised more than $20,000, but Rick Westbrook of the East Point Possums said in an email that this year the group paid for expenses up front for a total of just over $15,000.

"With this being the 15th year, we decided it was time to stand on our own. We did not ask for any monies from the beneficiaries because we know that all grassroots are struggling," Westbrook said in an email. In the past, beneficiaries were asked to front money to help pay for expenses, he explained. This year, the Possums decided to bypass that tradition.

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Health Initiative prepares for Spring Health Fair

The Health Initiative

The Health Initiative, Georgia’s voice for LGBT health, will host a Spring Health Fair on April 28 at The Rush Center. The event is being held in partnership with Grady Medical.

Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals will be on-hand to offer a variety of free health screenings and consultations ranging from blood pressure to cholesterol and glucose checks.

Also included in the health fair are short (30-45 minute) health and wellness information sessions that will focus on a variety of topics specific to LGBT participants. These sessions will occur throughout the day, according to the Health Initiative’s James Parker Sheffield.

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Deadline nears to join in statewide LGBT survey

Georgians have just one more week to join in a first-ever online study of the state’s LGBT population and the issues they deem most important.

The survey is a project of the Phillip Rush Center, the Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative and Georgia Equality. The two LGBT nonprofits are the founders of the center, which also provides office and meeting space to Atlanta Pride, MEGA Family Project, and several other groups.

The survey ends Sept. 9. It takes just 10 minutes and “will likely be the most important thing you can do this week to help secure a fair and just Georgia,” said Linda Ellis, executive director of ALHI.

Organizers say they will share the results with LGBT groups across the state to help with program planning and fundraising efforts.

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MEGA legal advice

MEGA Family Project hosts LGBT legal forum tonight at the Rush Center