Here’s a little story about how we came to be:
In early 2021, as many of us were slowly venturing back to in-person activities, it became apparent that there were very few places to gather. The places where we used to meet to socialize were permanently closed (i.e. Revolver Studios), and a gaping void was felt throughout the entire community.
Meanwhile, Seal and their colleagues were noticing a significantly negative shift in their clients’ mental health, and waitlists were growing by the day.
Community was the common thread missing throughout both their professional and personal lives - and when there is no community, you build it! Seal started by teaching Saturday morning yoga classes, drawing in familiar faces as well as some new ones. They made the classes financially accessible, asking for only $5 per class to help cover the cost of the space.
After class, some of us would sit around and dream, saying, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”
… we had a permanent space where we could hang out and get to know one another?
… we had a space that was accessible so folks with mobility issues could attend our class (they are for all bodies, after all)?
… we had a space where trans folks felt comfortable being their true selves? What about a binder library so folks could try on binders before spending oodles on a new one?
… we could get together to teach each other different things?
… queer folks could get together and feel authentically themselves without fear of judgment?
Our group grew from that Saturday morning yoga class to three yoga classes, two cardio classes, and the addition of another instructor (Toni). We held workshops and celebrations, all the while asking each other: How do we reach out to more people?
Meanwhile, as Seal’s counseling practice expanded with the addition of several staff and interns, it was clear they needed more space. Toni had recently started her business, EveryBODY Wellness, and was also looking for office and movement space. As the search began, other small businesses, therapists, nonprofits, and related organizations took note and asked if they could be included in the search.
Seal asked members of the community how to make this work, and it was suggested that we create a nonprofit community center that could house the various organizations that support and serve the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, as well as create space for community members to interact, socialize, grow, and thrive together.
And this brings us to the whirlwind of 2023! We held our first meeting on February 12th, where we established our board of directors and filled out the paperwork to become a nonprofit! Each board meeting seemed to grow in participants as excitement for the community center blossomed.
Like Seal often says, our collective talents, knowledge, and experience turned us into a human Swiss Army knife. Check out our board of directors page; you will see the variety of backgrounds and experiences everyone brings to the table!
We filed for 501c3 status in June of this year and are still waiting for our stamp of approval from the IRS (which can take up to a year). In the meanwhile, the kind folks at Peace United Church of Christ agreed to be our fiscal sponsor so we could start working on funding and grants for the programs we want to roll out soon. We are grateful for their support!
We toured numerous buildings around St. Cloud, but very few hit the mark on our wishlist. Some spaces needed extensive work to make them viable for offices, and others were not accessible for those with mobility challenges.
Then we saw the Lahr Building. We can’t wait for you to see it!! The building boasts over 5000 square feet of event space on the main level that will be used for classes and events - and will be available for rent for special events! Upstairs will host Seal Dwyer Counseling, EveryBODY Wellness, gender-affirming physical therapy, as well as offices for nonprofits and other organizations. Our basement, for the next year or so, is the home to the Great River Children’s Museum while their building undergoes a major renovation.