'Exist and thrive': Rainbow Rose Center seeks permanent home in York County

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

By year's end, the Rainbow Rose Center hopes to have a permanent home in York County.

Tesla Taliaferro, the LGBTQ organization's president, said the group is looking for a physical space after losing its last one — nestled within the York Jewish Community Center's IDEAS Center — in April 2020 due to budget constraints and the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We felt unhoused — and as a result, I felt like we just had nowhere to go," he said.

In some ways, losing the old was a blessing in disguise.

Going virtual helped the Rainbow Rose Center reach a wider audience of York County residents who could not easily access the former physical building — and at a time when many organizations, businesses and schools were going virtual.

Vladik Lucky Falevich Saavedra, on left, with Casper Rohrman, both from York, at York County Pride at Cousler Park in York on Saturday, June 11, 2022.

"The timing couldn't have been more perfect ..." Taliaferro said. "It leveraged us into a position to serve the community in a virtual capacity."

The Rainbow Rose Center already is taking steps to bridge the gap between city and county. With its Pride Month Festival held last month, for example, event organizers decided to take the event outside of the city.

"I feel like we really were able to expand into more of a countywide organization as a result of this," Taliaferro said.

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But the group, which offers a variety of housing and social service supports, is ready to return to a physical location.

Rainbow Rose Center President Tesla Taliaferro

Taliaferro said the goal always was to return because all of its services — particularly training seminars and peer-support meetings — are easier in-person.

Other services that the Rainbow Rose Center offers, including its free clothing closet and lending library, would find homes in the physical space — as opposed to operating out of a storage unit. 

"I think what's most key about the physical office space is that it helps create a safe space for the members of the LGBTQIA+ community," Taliaferro said. 

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Currently, the Rainbow Rose Center is working with community members and local real estate offices to shop for the right space. Important aspects when looking for the right location include accessibility, street visibility and free, off-street parking.

Taliaferro said he encourages any community members who know of a space that could house the Rainbow Rose Center to contact him at president@rainbowrosecenter.org.

Funding to seek a building was made possible through the organization's success with its capital campaign, which reached its $20,000 goal. 

Reo Kuykendall, from Red Lion, at York County Pride at Cousler Park in York on Saturday, June 11, 2022.

With that being said, the Rainbow Rose Center continues to seek additional funding for programs and ongoing operations when the physical space opens. 

After a main building is operational, Taliaferro said he hopes to add satellite offices to other parts of the county, too.

Interested individuals can donate by visiting www.rainbowrosecenter.org.

"Whether they're out or in the process of coming out or have been out for years — no matter who they are, who they love, how they express themselves — they will know that the Rainbow Rose Center office is a safe space for them to just be and exist and thrive," Taliaferro said

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.