The future of William Way Community Center

William Way LGBT Community Center. (Photo by Jason Villemez)

It is glorious when a project takes flight in the community. Philadelphia’s William Way LGBT Community Center has been providing services to our community for decades.

Early on, the community center provided services without a permanent building. The term coined by its namesake, Bill Way, was “a community center without wall.” Once the center finally secured a building at its current location on Spruce Street it began adding services for youth, seniors and the trans community, along with its various arts projects including a gallery and performing spaces. It houses a growing library, peer counseling, community organization offices and meeting spaces as well as an archive which chronicles the history of our community. All of this activity has been done under the handicap of a building that was in need of a little love. Actually at times the center and the building seemed to be falling apart under the weight of its programs and its physical structure.

This week the love that WWCC desperately needed arrived in the form of state and city grants. They’ll be used to create a larger and better space for the community. But it takes more than money to build a building and make it work. You need to have a community not simply support it but be involved with it. A building project like this one takes a team of building managers and building professionals to take the building to its potential. And you need a dedicated staff that not only listens to the needs of the community but reaches out to hear those who have for too long feel unincluded. 

That potential is what you dream it to be. The key word there is you. A community center is made from the people it serves and the people from the community that make good use of its facilities or volunteer to help others. If you dream of a program, you can build it at the center. It took many people many years of building relationships to make this possible. 

A building is more than bricks and mortar. It’s about what happens inside those walls, too. You can witness that on the faces of the people it serves. Inside those walls have been people coming out, couples getting married, and the creation of new organizations and programs to address the needs not addressed before. From people in need of counseling to families in need of safe places to people dealing with the loss of a loved one and the realities of a community under attack, a community center has to be the center of the community and reach out and welcome everyone. 

The center has its mission and its vision for the future. It’s up to everyone to make it happen.

A timeline of the upgraded WWCC.

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