News Briefs: San Mateo Pride Center to reopen

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday March 22, 2023
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Francisco "Frankie" Sapp stood in the main room at the San Mateo County Pride Center two years ago; the center is reopening March 24. Photo: Matthew S. Bajko
Francisco "Frankie" Sapp stood in the main room at the San Mateo County Pride Center two years ago; the center is reopening March 24. Photo: Matthew S. Bajko

The San Mateo County Pride Center will have its grand reopening Friday, March 24, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 1021 South El Camino Real in San Mateo.

The evening will feature community reconnection, celebration, and a re-introduction to the facility, an email announcement stated.

The center has largely been closed the last three years due to the COVID pandemic. The Bay Area Reporter noted in a 2021 article that the center was working to partially reopen, but many programs have been held virtually.

Francisco "Frankie" Sapp, the center's executive director, recently told the B.A.R. that other issues also affected the facility.

"We've always known the importance for our clients and community to access the physical space of the Pride Center," Sapp wrote in a March 20 email. "When working with individuals and groups, we've been able to accommodate folx by request as well as offer office hours or drop-ins when possible. Our reopening of the Pride Center has had many delays due to the ever-fluctuating pandemic but also caused by an unfortunate flooding of the center last year. However, the team, our parent agency StarVista, and our community came to our aid to help repair the damage."

The center is a program within StarVista, a $12 million social services organization in San Mateo County. It receives one of its major grants from San Mateo County Behavioral Recovery Services and partners with various agencies in the area.

Sapp, a disabled, biracial, queer, transgender man, also noted that the center had a lot of work done while it was closed. Some of that was reported in the 2021 B.A.R. article, such as remodeling the center to make it more accessible and acquiring new furniture.

"While closed, we invested a lot of work to upgrade and improve the site in the name of accessibility and overall health and well-being," Sapp stated. "Fortunately, this work was not lost."

He added that it was disappointing that the reopening has taken so long.

"We will be testing our new hybrid model three days a week onsite and remain virtual all five days while we acclimate to our new systems," Sapp explained. "Our goal is, and has always been, to continue to serve our community in the best ways possible. We know many of our clients benefit from our virtual services while some need that one-to-one connection. The entire team is excited to be able to provide both beginning March 27."

Marilyn-Rose Calosing Fernando, the marketing and community engagement lead for the center, wrote in the announcement that the center is "excited to welcome you home."

For more information on the Pride center, visit its website.

Trans visibility event in Solano County

The Solano Pride Center will hold a rally celebrating Trans Day of Visibility Friday, March 31, at 4 p.m. at 675 Texas Street in Fairfield.

In a post on Facebook, the center noted, "This year in particular, we feel the need to rally together in solidarity to show our support for our trans and nonbinary family due to the recent efforts to strip away the rights of trans and nonbinary people across the country."

Participants will meet in front of the Solano County Administration Building in downtown Fairfield. There will be a brief program with speakers from Solano Pride Center and the community.

"Please bring trans/Pride flags, bring your family and friends and let's rally together to show solidarity with our trans & non-binary siblings!" the announcement stated.

For more information, check out the Facebook page.

SF Superior Court seeks grand jurors

The San Francisco Superior Court is seeking individuals who want to serve on the 2023-24 civil grand jury. This body works to identify issues with city government that could be a catalyst for reform and improvements, a news release stated.

"I am looking for citizens from all backgrounds to reflect the rich diversity of our community," stated Judge Eric R. Fleming, the chair of the civil grand jury. "The court wants the grand jury to have a collective voice that reflects a cross-section of the community. Accomplishing that goal will help ensure that the grand jury fairly fills its function to ensure that an honest, efficient government is operating in the best interest of the people."

Civil grand juries are required in every California county. They don't investigate crimes but serve as citizen "watchdog" groups by examining local government through independent investigations, the release stated. City agencies are required to respond to the grand jury's reports, and to participate in public hearings with jurors before the government audit and oversight committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

The civil grand jury consists of 19 people, who are selected by a panel of judges, the release stated. The term is for one year, beginning July 1. Volunteers are not paid, though reimbursed a small amount for meetings. Civil grand jurors must be U.S. citizens, at least 18 years of age, and have lived in San Francisco for at least the past 12 months with no felony convictions, according to the release. All jurors must be able to communicate in English. The release stated that the court is especially interested in recruiting people of color and residents who represent a wide range of San Francisco neighborhoods.

The deadline to apply is May 12. For more information and an application, click here.

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