Center on Halsted is a great organization for the LGBTQ and allied communities. I believe in the mission and vision to build and strengthen the LGBTQ community through programs, facilities, and services for everyone. That is one of the reasons my partner and I gave to the capital campaign when the building was built and continue to give all that we can each year. The staff is involved, welcoming and very professional. Senior leaders sometimes seem too controlling, but their intentions are in the right direction. Board members I've met are very committed to their roles.
Once again the Center on Halsted is confused and off-track. I just found out that the Center hosted the Mr. International Rubber ("MIR") contest a few months ago. I have no problem whatsoever with the MIR and encourage their efforts as a community. However, I do have a problem with closing down the Center to hold this contest. For an entire weekend the 2nd and 3rd Floors were devoted to the contest effectively shutting down the social programs that I thought my dollars were supporting. Weekends can be an especially hard time for persons dealing with grieving a spouse or loved one, persons with coming out issues, youth groups who especially need guidance and support. MIR has every right and should continue to have it's contest. But, when the gym is used as a "puppy pound" where men pretend to be dogs and "hump" one another, it is inappropriate for the Center. The competition was held in the theatre where a shower contest was held. Again, no problem. But, the contestants simulated masturbation as part of their talents to win the contest. Clips of the contest were on Youtube but only for a few days as Youtube deemed them inappropriate. There are plenty of age-restricted places for MIR to hold its contest. But the Center is not one of them. Donors do not give to support type of activity.
A separate complaint is that all of the activities in the Center are fee-based but that's another issue.
The Center is a beacon of hope for our community. It provides an array of programs to serve a diverse community and does it well. The center has saved the lives of several of my friends with mental health services.
Center on Halsted used to be a safe place for coming out issues and other issues with respect to mental health, addictions, HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. It seems to have lost its way - this year it hosted the Grabby Awards. The Grabby Awards are an homage to the gay "erotic" film industry, i.e. pornography. Its amazing and difficult to comprehend how a pornography award celebration honors its mission of "building and strengthening the gay community."
The Center on Halsted has also become a focal point of violence in the neighborhood. The reception desk has had to call 911 several times for incidents of theft, disorderly contact and, most recently, a vicious beating of a man by a client of the Center.
Conversations with some employees of the Center reveal that they are intimidated and afraid in their jobs.
I found out too late that Center on Halsted was really only interested in corporate contributions and didn't really appreciate individual donors. I also found out about some deceptive and misleading solicitation practices. I won't be donating again. They are apparently very well funded and don't need my not insubstantial donation.
Review from CharityNavigator
This is a dirty facility, filled with brusque, uncaring people who don't know what they're doing. Their clientele cause continual problems with the neighbors. They only provide programming for select members of the community. Their CEO is erratic and has been known to antagonize community members in public with temper tantrums. A useless money suck in my opinion.
Review from Guidestar
Every diverse segment of the rainbow community can find services or programs of interest at the Center... and straight allies as well. The lives of so many people are enhanced or even saved by the Center. It's exciting to find a place that is so affirming to all people and builds bridges among us. I love attending films and lectures in the theatre and also seeing the great work being done for our youth and seniors.
Center on Halsted is a wonderful place for all people, if you are looking for networking opportunties or social service programs or simply want to enjoy an art exhibit the Center is for you.
As a Directors Circle member (donations of $600 more a year) I am honored and proud to be part of such a forward thinking organization. The programming at the Center on Halsted is as diverse as the community it serves. Bravo to the Center on Halsted for providing a plethora of programming choices to the community.
COH serves a unique role in Chicago's LGBT community for young people, seniors and everyone in between. It offers a full roster of services and the magic where our community comes together.