Hudson Pride, formerly known as Jersey City Connections, is a non-profit formed in 1993 to serve the needs of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community, including those who are HIV-positive or stricken with AIDS.
The group will officially close on the acquisition in the next few weeks. Later this year, after the three-story location is renovated, Hudson Pride will occupy two-thirds of the building. The Jersey City Lesbian and Gay Outreach and the northern New Jersey chapter of the national organization Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network will occupy the remaining third.
For Guido Sanchez, executive director of Hudson Pride, this move is a "big leap" for the organization, which has two full-time and 12 part-time employees. They currently serve 300 people, and now they can increase their services.
"Absolutely, for a non-profit it is amazing," Sanchez said. "It increases visibility, and a lot more people will want to show their support in the future. A non-profit is all about its reputation."
But the move will not be too drastic, as their new location of 32 Jones St. is right next door to Hudson Pride's rented third floor office at 34-36 Jones St. Their new three-story building has a basement and a backyard parking. It was once the offices of the longtime Jersey City law firm of Miller and Galdieri.
Hudson Pride plans to start renovating the building this summer, with a target occupying date in August and grand opening scheduled for September.Lots of support
The exterior of 32 Jones St. looks like it has not been painted in decades.
Sanchez said the structure will definitely receive a paint job when renovations commence, and there are plans to transform the basement into a cyber center. Also, a wall on the top floor will be taken out to make the room larger for social events.
Discussions about opening a new location to support Hudson County's increasing LGBT population started in November. "We had the need to expand, and we saw the building was listed next door for sale," Sanchez said.
Hudson Pride then started negotiating with the building's owners.
Then, the organization started forming their "Making History" capital initiative to raise the nearly $1 million needed for the building's acquisition and renovation.
Hudson Pride held a kick-off fundraising event in February at Puccini's Restaurant in Jersey City, where they raised $30,000. They received another $50,000 from the Hudson County Division of Community Development, and $20,000 from various donors since that event.
Hudson Pride will continue the initiative until they have raised all the money. In the meantime, they will take out a mortgage.
What impressed Sanchez about the "Making History" intiative was the people who offered their support in accuiring the new building.
"We have gotten support from Mayor Jerramiah Healy, Hudson County Exectuive Tom DeGise, the United Way," he said. "Also, local developers building in Journal Square as well as our neighbors have also said positive things about us opening a new center."
Sanchez is most proud of the many opportunities a new home will bring to Hudson Pride's existing work.
"We hope to integrate more services, and those range from job development programs to adding services from LGBT people and those with HIV/AIDS." Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at email@example.com