Friday, July 17, 2009

Open Letter from Wingspan Board President Cynthia Garcia

Times are tough. We've all felt the effects in our pocketbooks and portfolios.

Your LGBT community center is no exception. Wingspan is making some big changes. We must take these bold actions now to preserve our core services.

I wanted to tell you what's happening and ask for your help.

First Wingspan is moving.

Beginning this weekend, the Wingspan community center and staff offices will consolidate buildings with the EON Youth Lounge. This is a smaller building just across the street from Wingspan. Wingspan will be open Saturday July 18 and then close Sunday, July 19. Wingspan will remain closed next week (July 20—24) during the transition and reopen Monday, July 27 in the new space.

I've listed further details at the end of this letter about new hours and what this will mean.

There are more big changes ahead.

I want to also let you know that as part of a strategic plan to conserve resources by cutting all staff positions that are not grant-funded, Wingspan's Executive Director Jason Cianciotto has offered his resignation. When Jason saw that his resignation was a necessary part of cost-saving measures to preserve core services, he came to the board to recommend that he resign. We reluctantly accepted.

Jason has volunteered to continue as executive director, with only a $1 salary until July 31. Jason will write to you soon himself. Jason has given complete devotion and passion to his leadership of Wingspan over the last 18 months. We are grateful for his service, leadership, and generosity.

And finally, in place of the annual community dinner held in September, we are going to do something different this year. At this time when every dollar counts, we don't want to spend any money that doesn't go directly to support our programs and staff.

Various activities are being planned in the coming months for the community to gather and support Wingspan. We will continue to keep you informed and encourage your participation in these events.

I realize that this is a lot to take in. And it's happening fast.

It's been difficult for the board to make these changes. We are available to answer your questions and hear your concerns and ideas.

Now more than ever Wingspan needs you. This is our community. It's our center.

We'll need volunteers to do many things that paid staff used to do. We'll also need your financial support to ensure that Wingspan continues.

Wingspan has a strong history of community involvement and leadership. Wingspan began as an all-volunteer organization. Wingspan's roots actually go back to the late 1970s, when local community members offered their homes for a weekly youth support group.

In the late 1980s Wingspan rented a tiny office space. And in 1998 Wingspan hired its first paid staff. It wasn't until 2000 that Wingspan had an executive director.

Now, it's time to return to our roots.

In the very first newsletter of Wingspan, published in the late 1980s, the volunteer leaders wrote why they chose to call the community center Wingspan:

"The word Wingspan represents the enfolding of wings around us, cradling us in our struggle for survival," they wrote. They went on to explain that, "It expresses our desire for freedom; the freedom symbolized by a bird in flight. And it represents the spreading of our own wings, as each of us reach beyond our limits."

It's time to spread our own wings. To reach out. To stretch beyond what we thought was possible.

Your gifts of time and leadership are needed now. And your financial support is imperative.

For Wingspan to continue we must raise $125,000 by October 31, and find 1,000 new monthly donors who commit to giving $25 or more each month. And we need your help to do it.

Every donation counts. Nothing is too small. We need every person who cares about Wingspan in Southern Arizona to stretch and do their part.

Giving online is the quickest and easiest way for us to process your gift. Please go online today to and give as much as you can. Ask your friends to do the same.

Times are tough for everyone. But I know that we have an amazing community. The board of directors have already personally pledged $20,000 toward our $125,000 goal.

This is it. This is the critical moment to offer your skills and support to Wingspan. Wingspan needs you to continue offering critical, life-saving services and to speak loudly and proudly on behalf of the freedom and equality of the LGBT community in Southern Arizona.

Thank you in advance for your sacrificial giving. And for all that you will do to ensure that Wingspan continues.


Cynthia Garcia

Wingspan Board President

P.S. If you have questions or ideas please feel free to email me directly at or the board vice president Karyn Prechtel at

We've tried to anticipate some of your questions below. But please contact us if you have more questions.

What will the transition be like next week?

· The anti-violence hotline will remain available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the transition. The number is 520-624-0348 and toll-free 800-553-9387.

· The EON Youth Lounge will remain open next week during its regular hours, 3 to 8 pm for youth ages 13-23.

· Staff email is currently down due to the transition. We hope to have this back up and running smoothly by the close of business Saturday, July 18.

· The Wingspan website will remain up during the transition. The web address is

· The new combined Wingspan center and EON Youth Lounge will be open at its new location July 27.

What will the new center be like?

· The new center hours will be Monday — Friday. Wingspan and EON will be closed on the weekends. From 11 am until 2 pm the community is welcome to come and use the cyber center, library, and the one available meeting room.

· Wingspan will be closed each weekday from 2 pm to 3 pm to allow for a daily transition to an all-youth lounge.

· EON Youth Lounge will remain a youth-only safe space from 3 pm until 8 pm Monday—Friday. Only youth, SAGA and some Wingspan committees will be able to use the space from 3 pm to 8 pm.

What will the new Wingspan look like?

Wingspan's outreach, support and advocacy will continue with paid staff through the following programs: EON Youth Lounge, Anti-Violence Programs, and the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance. Wingspan's community education programs will also continue with leadership by volunteers. These programs have been the crux of Wingspan's 21-year legacy of providing national leadership in LGBT education and advocacy.

Wingspan's finances will remain professionally administered through a financial management contract.

Volunteer teams of community leaders will take the lead on organizing volunteers, fundraising, and Wingspan's public advocacy. Already volunteers completely run many of Wingspan's work such as our community Senior Programs. Wingspan began as a volunteer organization. By engaging the many gifts and talents of our community and returning to our roots as a volunteer organization, Wingspan will continue to promote the freedom, equality, safety, and well-being of LGBT people in Southern Arizona.

My group used to meet at Wingspan: Where else can we meet?

Tucson's public libraries and city council offices have free meeting spaces for the public. Both have offered their spaces for groups that used to meet at Wingspan.

See these websites for more about reserving rooms at a library near you:

I want to help. What can I do?

If you can help pack boxes, come to the center Saturday, July 18, starting at 9 am.

If you'd like to give a donation the easiest way is to go online to and donate online.

If you have ideas or would like to volunteer to write grants, do data entry, sweep floors, answer phones, host a fundraiser, or lead a new outreach program for instance, contact board president, Cynthia Garcia, or the board vice president, Karyn Prechtel at Jason will also be available until July 31.Thank you. Together we are Wingspan. This is our community. And our center.

No comments: