Lambda's Roots in the GLBT Community
Our community grew from necessity. In the early 1980's, GLBT members of AA were often shunned and even asked to leave AA meetings. This request was most often motivated by fear of contact with those that were suffering the effects of HIV or AIDS. But it also extended to those who had no illness, but professed, or appeared to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered.
"I no longer felt safe in sharing my story at meetings," said Chuck H., an early member of GLBT AA recovery groups. "It became apparent we needed to form our own group where we could work the Steps, Traditions, and Principles of AA, while attending meetings without fear of rejection."
In 1983, these AA members began to meet in their own groups. They met in homes, churches and wherever they could find space. Soon after their meetings began, they experienced an additional problem, rejection from locations simply because of being GLBT. Chuck H. explained, "As soon as the church found out we were a gay group, we were asked to leave. Sometimes without warning, we had no place to meet."
Lambda is Born
In 1990, these group members decided they needed a long-term solution to these evictions. On June 10, 1991, The Lambda Phoenix Center articles of incorporation were filed with the State of Arizona and Lambda began holding meetings in Phoenix. They signed a legal and binding lease with a vacated building once used to make Popsicles. Lambda and its members met in their rooms for two years.
As Lambda outgrew the space at the Popsicle factory, the organization once again found themselves needing a new home. The entire Lambda Board and membership began searching the city for an affordable location. One of our early members, Ray D., said, "One day while driving near my home, I saw the perfect spot for our meetings, with a lease sign out front. Although I had called many locations only to find the price completely out of range, I though I would try once again. I made contact with the realtor and he quoted a price that was four times our budget. I thanked him politely, and said that was too much for us pay, and goodbye. The realtor said, 'Hang on a moment, what can you afford?' and that is where our relationship with the current landlord began."
The structure needed considerable remodeling to be suitable for meetings. Partitions needed to be pulled out and walls and kitchen moved. The Lambda membership pulled together and made the meeting space one of the best of its type in Phoenix.
In April of 2005, a fire caused serious damage to the building, destroying the kitchen. In the days following, the membership pulled together to restore the building. Many members donated funds and others donated time and equipment. As a result, we now have a beautiful commercial kitchen to meet our needs.
Purchasing the Building Becomes a Reality
In September 2006, the Lambda membership voted to purchase a location for long-term use and permanence. They also voted to continue the current lease if possible and search for a location over the next three years. In February 2007, Lambda wrote a letter to the landlord asking for a lease renewal and expressed a continued interest in making a purchase of the building and adjoining lot. "We were met with some surprise," said Don W. "When the response letter returned, the lease was written at a reduced rate, with first options on both properties under consideration."
On June 1, 2007, Dawn K. and Don W. met with Ong Ko Met Association, to begin negotiations on the properties. Dawn K. said, "It was great to find another group of people who had struggled to find permanence within the Phoenix area. They showed us walls filled with photos of Chinese-American immigrants, early Chinese grocers and farmers, who came together to support each other, and find place within the community. Does this sound familiar?"
"We were taken aback." said Don W., "The landlord said, 'Your offer of lease purchase is not good enough for you. You need a purchase. How can we make this happen?' "
"With a few more honest words of our financial abilities, we were presented with an offer of carryback, a down payment we could afford, and a price that was negotiated in 2004. Dawn and I left that meeting with amazement and gratitude," Don W. said.
But the lease on the adjoining lot still held up Lambda's purchase and need to have a legal lot and parking area.
On June 27, 2007, Mr. Tang of Ong Ko Met phoned Dawn K. and said the lease on the adjoining lot has been cleared, and he is ready to write a contract in mid-August of this year. Challenges still lie before Lambda to meet the financial obligations of purchase, rezoning, remodeling, and the new expenses presented by ownership. They hope to meet these challenges heads up with the support of their membership as they move ahead in their continued goals.
On October 1, 2007 our dream became a reality. Lambda Phoenix Center now holds the deed to our building, our lot, and adjoining parking. Congratulations to all our members and friends. We invite you to join in as we meet the new challenges of ownership.
From the Lambda Board of Directors
With gratitude and humility, we have hope for the future of our Lambda organization. Our membership provides a home for each of us to grow and find progress within our individual programs of recovery. We continue in our goal to provide a place to meet without fear of rejection. Lambda is a place for the GLBT newcomer to feel welcome, as well as for the longtime member to feel safe. We invite you to join us and add your support.
Thursday, February 20 at 4:48 pm
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Spring Break Committee Meeting 10:30am