LONG ISLAND, NY – Supporters enjoyed the sunset with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in Sag Harbor this weekend, July 25,2015, at the Sunset on the Harbor event at the the Bridgewater Yacht Club. The sold out fundraiser benefited the LGBT Network, a non-profit organization serving Long Island’s LGBT community since 1993. Proceeds from the event will support the LGBT Network’s Hamptons LGBT Center in Sag Harbor that provides services and a safe space for LGBT youth, adults, older adults, and LGBT-headed families of the East End throughout the year.
During the event I sat down and interviewed President and Founder David Kilmnick.
President and Founder of the LGBT Network David Kilmnick and Cognac Wellerlane.
David Kilmnick, PhD, MSW has more than twenty three years of experience working on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities. His mission is to end homophobia and transphobia, provide a home and a safe space for the community and advocate for equality under the law.
David founded Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth (LIGALY) in 1993 and has led the organization through growing and developing substantially in its 21-year history including the purchase of the first LGBT community center on Long Island. The most significant growth was in 2005 when David established The LGBT Network (The Network) to expand services for Long Island’s LGBT community throughout the lifespan. The Network included two other new organizations – the Long Island LGBT Community Center (The Center) for adults and families, and Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elders – Long Island (SAGE-LI) for seniors so that LGBT Long Islanders of all ages have access to needed programs and services.
Below is our interview:
Welcome back darlings, I am Cognac Wellerlane and I am here with the President and Chief Executive Officer Mr. David Kilmnick.
David: Yes, thank you so much for coming today.
It’s my pleasure. It’s such a wonderful event. It’s wonderful that you opened this facility right here in Sag Harbor. That must have been a huge undertaking. Can you tell my audience about the new facility that you just opened up.
David: Sure, the LGBT Network is an association of several different non-profit organizations, LIGALY, The Long Island Center, SAGE-U, Long Island for our elders and we just expanded into Queens. We have LGBT Queens Center now too. Servicing Long Island’s LGBT community means that we have to have more than on center to make our services accessible. A couple of years ago there was a sixteen year old in East Hampton, David Hernandez Barros…
Oh, I heard about that.
David: It was tragic. He didn’t have any support. He didn’t have anywhere to go so he took his own life. We said we can’t wait one more day to open a center here on the East End so that there isn’t one more kid that feels like they have to take their life. So the center is the beacon of hope for so many kids, for their parents, for their families for LGBT people, for straight people….it’s really a hub of activity for the East End LGBT community. We have all different kinds of services. We have a drop-in center for people to drop-in. We do cultural activities, art activities, we do counseling, we do HIV testing….we are out in the community the schools and we do some anti-bullying work. We are really all over the East End making sure that our community feels safe no matter where they are at.
Tell my audience how you became involved.
David: I am actually the founder of the organization.
So you decided to create this organization, How wonderful! How long has it been in existence?
David: Twenty-three years. I started the organization when I was a student at Stonybrook University.
You were a baby!
David: I know, I know, now I am going to be middle aged. Well I am middle aged, ha..ha..ha. I am going to be SAGE Long Island age soon. I started the organization when I was a student at Stonybrook doing my masters project when I was studying for my masters in social work and we went out into Long Island schools to talk about what it is like to grow up LGBT and what happened at the end of these workshops….we would have a couple of students when the worship was over they would shuffle their papers, would hit stuff on the floor so that everyone else would leave class and they would come up to the gay speaker…it was always the same question no matter where it was, “Is there a place that I can go” and there wasn’t back in 1993.
That’s why you decided to start this organization.
David: Yes! These kids, our youths should have a safe place. Everyone should have a safe place. We should definitely have a haven where they can just come and be kids and enjoy themselves and learn about everything they need to learn in life and learn that they can be anything in life too!
It is interesting, I go to so many organizations like this. I just went to LIVE OUT LOUD. That was in East Hampton. Tell my audience why your organization is unique. What is different about it?
David: Our organization, the LGBT Network with all of our organizations, Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth, Long Island LGBT Community Center, SAGE and Queens LGBT Community Center serves a region of over six million people from the midtown tunnel to Montauk.
That’s a lot of people.
David: It is a lot of people. We have four community centers. Most organizations and all of our LGBT organizations are absolutely wonderful and doing God’s work but our organization is a little bit different in the fact that we can’t just have one center and expect people to come to where ever we are. We have to make our services accessible. A lot of what we do here in our center is making sure that we are out and visible in the community whether its schools, whether its the workplace, whether its churches or synagogues…we are out there doing our work to try and make every space a LGBT friendly space.
You doing a fantastic job! you are doing a spectacular job! I want you to tell my audience where we can go to find out more information. What is the website?
David: Sure, they can go to www.lgbtnetwork.org; You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all over social media as well.
Chief Operating Officer Robert Vitelli and Cognac Wellerlane pose for a photo-op.
The LGBT Network is an association of non-profit organizations working to serve the LGBT community of Long Island and Queens throughout the lifespan: Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth (LIGALY), The Long Island LGBT Community Center (The Center), Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elders – Long Island (SAGE-LI), and the Queens LGBT Community Center (Q Center).
LIGALY is the original organization of The Network as it was established in 1993 and is nationally known for its work with LGBT youth in the areas of education, advocacy, youth leadership and development and support. The Center and SAGE-LI along with the Network was founded in 2005 to unite these non-profits to help more LGBT people across the lifespan and create a cost efficient way of serving the Long Island LGBT Community.
With shared administrative staff between all organizations, this structure eliminates duplication of administrative and executive staff thereby allowing each organization of The Network to share resources. This unique model reduces overhead costs and expenses and as a result more than 80 cents of every dollar raised are channeled directly into critical programs and services for Long Islanders of all ages and walks of life.
Cognac interviews President and Founder David Kilmnick of the LGBT Network, Committee Member Tim Hennessey and Chief Operating Officer Robert Vitelli at The Sunset on The Harbor Cocktail Reception to benefit lgbtnetwork.org in Sag Harbor
Together, each organization works within The Network to end homophobia and transphobia, to provide a home and safe space for the LGBT community and to advocate for equality.
Since 2012, The Network also produces the annual Pride Parade and PrideFest celebration every June and Living Out magazine each month. Both Pride and Living Out build community and celebrate their identities while also providing visibility to their movement
For more information please visit http://lgbtnetwork.org