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Phillip Rush Center Raises $100,000 For Expansion

by Conswella Bennett
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Wednesday Apr 24, 2013
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The Phillip Rush Center, the community center known for supporting Atlanta’s LGBT community, is embarking on its third expansion project that will double the facility’s size.

The Rush Center provides office space, meeting and training rooms to be used by organizations whose mission or activities advance LGBT rights and understanding, according to the website.

Linda Ellis, executive director of the Health Initiative and co-manager of the Phillip Rush Center, said the group had one problem -- a good one, though.

"We are the victim of our own success," Ellis said of the need to have more space. Unfortunately, because they don’t have the room, she said they have had to turn away groups and organizations who have been requesting to use the center.

An 18-month long strategic plan, funded by the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, was recently conducted to determine what direction the Rush Center should take. The plan showed that the way the Rush Center is operating is successful, Ellis noted.

"The purpose of the plan was to help us to make a decision of what the Rush Center would look like moving forward," Ellis noted, saying that she felt good about the community support.


Rush Center Will Take Over Adjacent Building

There is no current space in the building to expand. But there is space in a building located behind the current building, directly behind the Rush Center on Edgewood Avenue in Candler Park.

The current lease on the Rush Center, located at 1530 DeKalb Avenue in Atlanta, is up in July. The current lease was signed jointly by the Health Initiative and Georgia Equality almost five years ago. Both organizations co-manage the Rush Center.

Ellis said they wanted to stay in their current area because the location is perfect. It is MARTA-accessible (public transit), it’s a great central location no matter which direction of the city you are coming from and it has enough parking, she noted.

During a Mar. 30 launch reception and fundraiser, the expansion plans were unveiled. The goal of the reception was to raise enough money to fund the expanding center’s operated cost for one year, and Ellis said they were able to do that, raising more than $30,000 during that event. Donations of $5,000 were made and some vowed to make monthly donations of $5 to go towards the expansion.

"That says to me we’re doing well because we are getting buy-ins across the community," she said.

Negotiations are already underway with the landlord of the new building, which, once built out, will provide a larger event space. According to Ellis, they will go from being able to hold about 50 people to 100. The new space will also include two bathrooms, storage space and a small prep kitchen. "So, it becomes a good event space," she said.

The current event space will be developed into six new office spaces, one of which will be a room that will provide privacy for the various support groups who use the Center.


Center Expansion Still $60,000 Short of Goal

While a large portion of the money has been raised for the project, Ellis said that $60,000 is still needed. The goal is to have everything completed by the end of the year. The work will be done in two phases. Work on the new event facility will be done first so that it will not interfere with the operations at the current building, she added.

Once the projects are complete, Ellis said, "It allows us to become a more community central hub."

The Phillip Rush Center was named for community advocate and philanthropist Phillip Rush. According to the Center’s website, Rush was committed to bringing diverse people and organizations together in an effort to foster partnerships and understanding.

"With initial funding from the Lloyd Russell Foundation, the Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Fund and a host of individual donors, the Phillip Rush Center houses office space, meeting and training rooms to be used by organizations whose mission or activities advance LGBT rights and understanding," said the website.

In 2008, Ellis said they began with a very modest goal of providing space for the Georgia Equality and the Health Initiative. The Rush Center is also home to Atlanta Pride, United 4 Safety, Pro Georgia and Circle of Grace Community Church. It is a regular meeting place for a variety of community organizations such as TILTT, AGLCC, ITLA and many more. It also provides space for various events and trainings.


For more information on the expansion plans or to make donations toward the project, check out the Rush Center’s website at www.rushcenteratl.org.

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