Sunday, April 2nd marked the grand opening of offices to be shared by Equality California (EQCA) www.eqca.org and the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) www.gsanetwork.org here in Fresno. To celebrate the opening, a Warming Party/Mixer/BBQ was held at the site of the office, located at 928 North Van Ness Avenue.
A large, enthusiastic crowd attended to make the event a great success. A live DJ provided music during the complimentary barbecue, as people toured the new office space and mingled together.
The guests of honor were a group of activists participating in the Liberty For All Tour of California www.eqca.org . Each activist on the tour took their turn to introduce themselves and speak. These included Sam Thoron, National President of PFLAG www.pflag.org , Mandy Benson from the California National Organization of Women www.canow.org , Field Director Molly McKay of EQCA www.eqca.org , Program Director Tanya May of the Gay Straight Alliance www.gsanetwork.org , and Rigo Marquez of Bienestar www.bienestar.org . Also present were representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union www.aclu.org , Amnesty International www.amnesty.org , Planned Parenthood www.plannedparenthood.org and Central California Alliance www.cca.org .
The opening of the local office is another step toward building a more powerful and connected network of Californians who can help develop and strengthen the infrastructure of activists in order to proactively advance civil and human rights, and to react and respond to legislation and ballot measures.
Molly McKay of Equality California started the networking portion of the celebration by passing the microphone to every person in the crowd so they could introduce themselves and say how many years they’d been involved in some form of activism for civil rights. As the microphone made it’s way around the crowd Molly kept track of the months and years quoted. Some were new to the activist movement, while others had been making statements and standing up for civil rights their entire lives. Afterwards, a cheer rose from the crowd when it was announced the grand total was in excess of 700 years.
To further get acquainted and share experiences, an inner and outer circle of those gathered was put together and Molly read questions such as “Who inspired you as a child?” and “Who, living or dead, would you like to have dinner with and why?”. It was an energetic exercise well participated in by all.
The EQCA/GSA Office is located at 928 North Van Ness Avenue in the Tower District and plans to be open daily from 9AM-5PM. Aside from offices for EQCA and GSA, the space also contains a large common room with sofas and a bulletin board, which is available for use by social groups and the community. Please contact the office for details. EQCA’s latest addition is Marisela Garcia, who has been hired in Fresno as an Equality California Field Organizer. Marisela will be in charge of the local EQCA office and can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 559-681-6682.