The Lodi Library has announced it will begin hosting the San Joaquin Pride Center each month in the library’s Teen Center. The Pride Center offers counseling and support to members of the LGBTQ community throughout San Joaquin County and surrounding areas.

The library will host the group on the last Thursday of each month. The meetings will include counseling sessions and social gatherings, according to Yvette Herrera, the adult literacy program coordinator.

The center hosts workshops and presentations and provides resources to individuals and families requesting services.

“The purpose of hosting the Pride Center at the library is to create a melting pot of information and disseminate information to people looking for it,” Herrera said.

The program at the Lodi Library will model one offered at the Tracy Library, which started last summer.

“I reached out to the Pride Center after a note was left in a suggestion box, from someone requesting information and a place to meet for the LGBTQ+ community in Tracy,” said Candace Williams, a library assistant and director of teen services in Tracy.

Since the Pride Center started hosting monthly counseling sessions and game nights in Tracy, Williams has seen new faces at the library.

“They provide a relaxed environment that is open to everyone. People that tend to be shy kind of open up. It’s been really great having them here,” Williams said.

The Pride Center was contacted by Herrera to consider a place for the LGBTQ+ community of Lodi to meet.

The opportunity to mirror a program that offers the same level of partnership in the community is what Pride Center outreach director Ben Zamora hopes to bring to Lodi.

“At our first meeting, we will offer counseling services and host a potluck. We want to know what programs this community is looking for before we know what to offer on a regular basis. This meeting is about getting to know the community,” Zamora said.

The San Joaquin Pride Center will host its first meeting in the Lodi Library Teen Center from 1 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 28. The event is open to the public and more information about SJ Pride and its services can be found at sjpridecenter.org.

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