Medical, mental, and social care for the Bronx’s LGBTQ community took a giant leap forward.
This past Friday, BOOM!Health opened its doors to the public as the non-profit began the process of consolidating its Bronx offices under one roof at the former Brook House Furniture building across from the Old Bronx Courthouse.
Originally the organization was to lease the building for 25 years with an option to buy from the Koptstein family who owned Brook House but they are now in contract negotiations to purchase the building with an expected closing this year.
For any non-profit organization, owning your own real estate property is a crucial component in surviving in today’s economy where so much of an organization’s monies gets thrown away in leasing.
The new Wellness Center isn’t complete and already they have outgrown the space.
“We’re already looking at different spaces in the area to rent out about 5,000 square feet of space as we’ve outgrown the building and haven’t even fully moved in yet,” said Jose Davila, President and CEO of BOOM!Health.
With only 2 of 5 floors finished and open for business, BOOM!Health was a beehive of activity on Friday with many from the LGBTQ celebrating its opening, particularly the youth who now have a safe space to come to—where besides the many services such as GED programs, counseling, HIV and Hep C screenings, nutrition services—and have a meal as well as a place to socialize with others in a caring and nurturing environment.
Some of the services BOOM!Health youth can expect to receive at the wellness center are:
- Sexual Health Education/Prevention
- PrEP/PEP Awareness and Engagement
- Behavioral Health
- College Readiness
- Theater Engagement
- Paths to Employment and Economic Stability
One of the most important and innovative features of the building, once completed by early January 2016 will be the homeless youth drop-in center where LGBTQ youth from 13-24 will be able to take a hot shower and wash their clothes and take advantage of all the services BOOM!Health offers and will offer all other one roof.
Callen-Lorde, one of New York City’s leading HIV and LGBT focused medical care organizations based in Manhattan will also be co-locating within the space and operating not just a pharmacy but also the healthcare facility with a strong focus in women’s health (which last year BOOM!Health announced would be one of the primary groups to benefit from the new services they would provide at the new center), mental health, and even transgender care.
According to Jose Davila, the transgender population which the organization serves continues to grow and is now at 1.3% of total clients as of their latest annual report showing a significant increase from the prior years. These numbers are expected only to grow as the Bronx transgender community becomes aware that they no longer have to leave the comfort of their own borough for the services necessary to them.
Speaking of the transgender community, a special feature of the building is that all bathrooms are ‘All-Gender’ meaning that they are designed for use by all regardless of gender featuring private, stalls with full doors and a windowed door into these bathrooms to provide a sense of openness and safety all the while providing these private stalls for their clients.
Also expected to open by next January is BOOM!Cafe which will not only help generate revenue for the non-profit organization but also teach their clients necessary life skills and job training opportunities to lead them to economic independence.
Although the center has a strong focus for the LGBTQ community, it is a place that is welcoming and open to one and all.
It is important that all Bronxites are provided with quality care and necessary services in a nurturing environment. For too long the LGTBQ community has been one that hasn’t received the attention it deserves when it comes to healthcare with a few exceptions such as Urban Health Plan where you are treated with dignity everyone is entitled to.
This is a giant leap forward in the medical, mental, and social care of The Bronx’s LBGTQ community.
BOOM!Health has more surprises in store so stay tuned with Welcome2TheBronx as we keep you posted as these developments are announced.
The center is located at 3144 Third Avenue at 161st Street across from the Old Bronx Courthouse.