New LGBTQ, minority-focused community center opens in Lancaster

The opening of The Loop community hub in Lancaster.

The Loop, a new community hub in Lancaster, Pa. is the latest LGBTQ+ and minority-focused nonprofit to open its doors in a smaller city in the Commonwealth. The Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition created The Loop, where its leadership plans to house an LGBTQ center as well as numerous other organizations that have either BIPOC leadership or that serve BIPOC communities. 

The LGBTQ center will offer a stage for creative performance, spaces for youth groups, LGBTQ role playing game groups, yoga, a trans and nonbinary group, and more. 

“Things are very exciting right now,” said K Foley, executive director of The Loop. “The Loop serves as a community hub for us to coalesce to our progress with our community partners that are working with targeted populations.” 

The coalition plans to work with Patients R Waiting, an organization which works to increase diversity in medicine to eradicate healthcare inequality; Common Wheel, which provides bikes and bike-centric programming for youth, minority communities and others; the NAACP; Raiz, which is focused on numerous missions, including natural disaster relief in Latin America, protecting and reclaiming indigenous land and providing education to indigenous communities; and Latino Empowerment Project, a leadership empowerment program created by and for Latinx people.  

Although Foley and their colleagues are still bringing in furniture, doing renovations and firming up those community partnerships, the one to three-year plan for The Loop includes a free health clinic centered on LGBTQ competency led by Lancaster LGBTQ+ Health Consortium; the Homelessness Emergency Assistance Response Team (HEART) Program, a shared housing model that includes a supporting home, resources, case management and skills training; and the Queer Health Advocacy Alliance, a collaboration between Comprehensive Health, Penn Medicine and representatives from University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Patients R Waiting. Discussions are in the works about a potential partnership with Union Community Care to provide an LGBTQ-focused medical center, with an additional partner to provide elder care services. 

“Our liberation is dependent on everyone else’s liberation,” Foley said. “So we absolutely must work with our partners, with say, Patients R Waiting, NAACP, Common Wheel and Latino Empowerment Project so we can continually check in with one another to make sure we’re visiting our weak spots.” 

To further the spirit of collaboration, the LGBTQ+ Coalition has close partnerships with most of the LGBTQ centers in Pennsylvania, Foley said.  

Bill McGlinn, interim executive director of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, Pa., commented on the importance of more LGBTQ centers opening up across Pennsylvania. 

“Expanding the network of LGBTQ+ organizations and resources in Pennsylvania is critical to our work, as we build capacity to better serve our community,” McGlinn said in an email. “Just as our center aims to connect and collaborate with regional partners, The Loop will play a vital role in coordinating activity and impact, meeting key needs locally.”

As of now, The Loop is supported by The Steinman Foundation, Lancaster County Community Foundation and Vanguard Foundation. 

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