Supporters Like You
You’re part of our community, and that’s why you’ll like knowing that there are many others like you who are taking action through their generosity to care for, champion, and celebrate LGBT people everywhere for years to come.
We invite you to meet some of them here.
How These Two Health Professionals Left a Lasting Gift
Finding a cure for the virus is vital for Ron and Bruce, and it moved them to make their legacy gift for the Center.
Whenever Dr. Ron Wing opens his wallet, a worn piece of paper inside it reminds him of an era filled with sadness.
“I’ve kept a list of my close friends and ex-boyfriends who died from AIDS during the 1980s because I’m very sentimental,” said Wing, 70, now retired. “I have about 50 names on that list, and I keep it in my wallet to this day. I never want them to be forgotten.”
More than three decades ago—at the height of the AIDS crisis—25-percent of Wing’s patients at a Sherman Oaks hospital where he worked were HIV-positive. He also volunteered at what was then known as the Center’s STD Clinic. His husband, Bruce Matsen, worked as a social worker in the HIV/ AIDS care unit of the Hollywood Community Hospital, where he still works today.
“Ron and I had AIDS patients in common,” said Matsen, 61. “It was devastating.” As they reflect on how far they—and the rest of the LGBT community—have progressed over the past four decades, their feelings about the journey become bittersweet. Five years ago, both men became Sustaining Donors of the Center. Then another couple they knew in their Glendale neighborhood brought up the Center’s Circle of Life, in which donors include the Center in their estate plan.
“Shirley Ann [Hill] and Joyce [Briscoe] invited us to a Circle of Life luncheon where we learned more about planned giving. We were impressed by all of the Center’s programs and services that could benefit from our gift,” said Matsen. “After we die, Ron and I want our money to be invested in Center programs that support people who need help, particularly LGBT youth and people who suffer from substance abuse.”
Their life-enriching decision to help others in need, even after they’ve passed, reflects their commitment to leave a legacy of support for the LGBT community and is in keeping with their strong religious faith. Since the 1990s, they have been active members of a Catholic church located in the Crescenta Valley. In 1991, they invited a priest to bless their home. They would have also arranged for a priest to marry them but, before the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality, they decided to tie the knot in Canada ending a 17-year engagement.
Continuing a rewarding life together is what brings them fulfillment. Leaving their legacy with the LGBT community—a community still searching for a cure to HIV—is what brings them gratification.
“We made a vital commitment, and it will come back to us tenfold,” said Matsen. “The impact we make will only further our cause.”
With Their Gift, They’re Investing in LGBT Youth
Chris and Rose think of the Center as a beacon of hope. Their gift will help keep it that way.
Chris Dean and Rose Veniegas want to invest in the lives of LGBT youth. As two of the newest members of the Center’s Circle of Life, the couple has made plans to include the Center in their estate plan.
“Through the Circle of Life, Rose and I are investing in the Center’s and LGBT community’s future,” said Dean. “I feel very lucky to be a part of the LGBT community, and can’t think of a better group of people to march, dance, laugh, dream, cry, advocate, learn and celebrate with! I’m so grateful that the Center fosters community through its many programs, and I want it to be there for future generations as a beacon of hope and support for those who need it.”
After receiving her M.A. from Dartmouth College, Dean actually worked at the Center for six years.
“I began my tenure as a receptionist and, after a series of promotions over the years, I oversaw individual and foundation giving, operations, and special events. I credit the Center and its many great mentors for launching my career in fundraising,” said Dean, currently the director of development at Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles.
The couple hopes more people think about the Center when they are making their estate plans or through another type of planned gift.
“There are moments in life when we need places like the Center. It is a source of light and strength during difficult times,” said Veniegas. Added Dean, “When you contribute to the Center, you are supporting homeless youth, people in need of free and low-cost medical care, victims of hate crimes and domestic abuse, people who are in the process of coming out, and many others. In addition to safety-net programs, you are elevating our voices through the Center’s advocacy work and promoting the well-being of our community through the arts, senior and family programs.”
“I feel very lucky to be a part of the LGBT community, and can’t think of a better group of people to march, dance, laugh, dream, cry, advocate, learn and celebrate with! I’m so grateful that the Center fosters community through its many programs, and I want it to be there for future generations as a beacon of hope and support for those who need it.”
Securing the Center’s Future is Their Legacy
Holly and Sophie know what the Center means for LGBT people. That’s why giving means so much to them.
Circle of Life members Holly and Sophie Hanson are no strangers to planning for their financial future. As founders of Harmony Financial Strategies, they have been helping the LGBT community with their financial planning for 20 years. In fact, Holly’s book ‘The LGBT and Modern Family Money Manual’ has become a go-to resource for LGBT individuals and couples who are looking to financially plan for their future no matter their sexual orientation or family dynamic.
In addition to helping others, Holly and Sophie have prepared for their own financial future by including the Center in their estate plan as a way to give back to the community they love.
“Becoming a Circle of Life donor is a really great avenue and a way to give back that was an easy fit for us,” said Holly. Holly and Sophie recognized the importance of the Center and its place in the community the moment they took their first tour.
“I had no idea the Center’s health care services were so broad, including mental health services and HIV testing, until we went on a tour,” said Sophie.
After the 2016 presidential election, the couple took time to consider what the community would be losing if the Center experienced cuts in its funding under the new administration.
“We knew it was time to jump in and help any way we could,” said Holly. “The Center and its services are needed now more than ever and people need to figure out how they can step up. Whether you are giving back to the Center with money or with your time, you’ll help protect the Center’s future.” “Now more than ever, we are confident about our decision to be part of the Center’s future as Circle of Life donors. That part of the future we can be sure of,” said Sophie.
A Great Model to Follow
Couple follows their heart into the Circle of Life.
Librada Hernandez and Mary Power have a deeply personal connection to the Center community. Mary’s late brother, Fintan Power, was a volunteer at the Center before his AIDS-related death in 1994.
“After he passed away, we became more aware of his involvement in the Center,” said Power, 66. “Fintan was a special human being who had a very generous spirit. Among other things, he worked delivering meals to people with HIV even as he was ill himself.”
In a tribute to Fintan, the couple became involved in the AIDS/LifeCycle, the annual 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles that raises funds for HIV/AIDS-related services provided by the Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
Power volunteered as part of the medical team during the 2012 ride, and Hernandez did extensive training and participated as a rider that same year.
“Fintan is always in our hearts and a great model to follow,” Power said.
Together for more than 38 years, they met when Power was manager of a two-screen Laemmle Theatre in West Los Angeles and hired Hernandez as an assistant manager. Both women are also immigrants who arrive in the U.S. as young girls. The Power family arrived from Ireland in 1961, and Hernandez’s family arrived from Cuba in 1970.
Having celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary in January 2018, Hernandez and Power have also made the decision to include the Center in their estate plans by becoming Circle of Life members.
“We have long supported the Center’s work on behalf of the LGBT community, so it was clear to us that their programs should be included in our plans,” said Hernandez, 62.
By including the Center in their estate plans, Hernandez and Power are helping to ensure that the organization will be here in the future to help members of the LGBT community.
“We feel it is important to give back because we are where we are due to the help of others,” she added. “We are thankful for our family, friends, and community who give of themselves as volunteers and as donors.”
As a former registered nurse and epidemiologist, Power is especially supportive of the Center’s health and mental health services. The Center is one of the few Federally Qualified Health Centers with providers who specialize in primary care for LGBT people and people living with HIV.
As a former Spanish professor, Hernandez said it is a priority as well for her to show support for all of the Center’s education and seniors programs. The Center operates the nation’s largest housing development specifically for LGBT seniors.
“We recognize that the senior LGBT population is growing and is especially vulnerable, so we feel the need to support Senior Services as the Center expands in that area moving forward,” Hernandez said.
“We feel it is important to give back because we are where we are due to the help of others.”
Good Neighbors, Now and for the Future
How one couple is helping protect the Center’s future.
Jeffrey Fischer and James Van Beek live just a few blocks from the Anita May Rosenstein Campus. But the couple’s decision to include the Center in their estate plans by becoming Circle of Life members is about more than being good neighbors.
“While I am close to my family, the traditional notion of leaving my estate to them no longer makes sense to me,” said Van Beek. “What does make sense is to empower the legacy of the LGBT community now and in the future.”
“Dark times compel us more frequently than not to fight for our rights,” he added. “But including the Center in my estate plan is not about fear, it is really about hope.”
The couple has donated to and attended Center events for years. But the 2016 presidential election and subsequent threats to LGBT equality inspired them to step up that commitment.
“I had no choice but to reflect on my life and evaluate my core beliefs and family relationships. In the process I found myself reliving anti-gay actions I’ve experienced through the years. I revisited what it was like for me to grow up gay and closeted in the workplace,” said Fischer, 54 who worked for 25 years in the investment industry before leaving to renovate and manage his real estate properties.
“I do not want the next generation of LGBT individuals to go through what I, and so many others, have gone through,” he said. “At a minimum I felt that leaving my estate to LGBT organizations is a good first step… with more to come.”
Van Beek, an attorney who works in the health care industry, has been involved with the Center since the early 1990s. While in law school he was funded by a grant to work on the Center’s Legal Services team supporting a youth law project. It was his first professional legal experience.
“AIDS was ravaging our community and the law project was an eye-opener for me,” recalled Van Beek, 49. “My social life as a gay man was a handful of friends looking out for each other, particularly when someone got sick. It truly was amazing to see how some simple advice or even small acts of service provided by the Center made a big difference in people’s lives. This showed me what we could do together in effective and meaningful ways as a collective community.”
Fischer added, “The work being done by the Center is vital. It gives us a structure to build our community around. It’s a protector of our rights, but it is also a forum to celebrate our diversity across generations and to exchange knowledge, lend a hand, and receive support when we need it.”
Creating a Legacy of Hope
Former Center staff member honors the past with a gift for the future.
The Los Angeles LGBT Center has been part of Dakota Sands’ life for more than 40 years. In the late 1970s, Sands was an LGBT activist and contributor to Lesbian Tide, the nation’s first lesbian newspaper which was led by fellow lesbian activist Jeanne Cordova. During those early days of LGBT activism in Los Angeles, she eventually met Don Kilhefner and Morris Knight, two of the Center’s founders, and started working at the organization.
“Socially and politically, the LGBT scene in Los Angeles was hopping back then!” said the now 72-year-old Sands. “It was an exciting time because there were no other LGBT centers anywhere in the country, and here I was happily working at the Center, answering phones and directing clients to all of the possibilities the Center offered: jobs, activities, services.”
Similar to today, activism and advocacy for LGBT equality were core tenets of the Center’s work.
“We organized marches at Barney’s Beanery for displaying a ‘fagots [sic] stay out’ sign, and boycotts against Florida Orange Juice because of spokeswoman Anita Bryant’s anti-LGBT rhetoric,” recalled Sands, now a resident of the Fairfax Village Grove neighborhood in Los Angeles. “We didn’t want to be invisible, closeted, voiceless. We chanted and picketed so that we could have pride to this day.”
As LGBT visibility began to rise, Sands earned a Master of Social Work and looked for new ways to care for the community. She became licensed as a clinical social worker and set up her own low-cost psychotherapy private practice. Many of her clients were referred to her by the Center.
And after 30 years working in the mental health field, Sands retired. Soon thereafter, she decided to give back to the Center by joining its Circle of Life after reflecting on her life’s accomplishments and the momentous events that shaped her identity. By including the Center in their estate plans or by making another type of planned gift, Circle of Life donor help ensure that the organization will be here in the future to help the most vulnerable member of the LGBT community.
“The Center is the heart and soul of our community. Its programs and services positively change people’s lives every day,” said Sands. “By financially supporting the Center, I am contributing to our legacy, our history, our future. I am so proud that the Center is a place we can call our own; a place where we can feel accepted, respected, and safe!”
Join The Circle of Life
Together we can do so much.
Join a community of people who share your passion for the Center by becoming a member of the Circle of Life.