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Metro Wellness And Community Center Partners With Community Aids Network

Sunday Jul 14, 2013

As the Tampa Bay community celebrates landmark decisions on same-sex marriage by the Supreme Court last month, along with Florida's largest Pride celebration, St. Pete Pride, Metro Wellness & Community Centers continues to move forward with tremendous growth in 2013, the organization's 20th year.

wellness2Metro is excited to announce a strategic partnership with Community AIDS Network (CAN), a full service HIV/AIDS Service organization based in Sarasota County. As of early April, Metro began working with CAN to form an alliance that will strengthen our expanding services to a broad community along the Central West Florida coast. CAN emerged from the union of Sarasota AIDS Support, Inc. and the Comprehensive Care Clinic, opening its 9,000 square foot facility in December of 2000. After 20 years of service, CAN offers medical and mental health services, nutritionists, dental services, case management, prevention, and intervention programs.

The partnership will collaboratively create additional medical care services that only CAN is able to wellness3provide, increasing our combined reach to at-risk communities, increasing visibility among a broader population and solidifying both organizations' futures in preparation for the Affordable Care Act. "We've been visionaries in this partnership," says Michel W. Cuffage, CEO and President of CAN. "Together, with Metro - we're better prepared for a vast change in healthcare in Florida and we're able to strengthen the bonds with needed populations in the areas we serve." Metro will now offer exclusive services strengthened by CAN's ability to hire and staff medical clinics in all three of Metro's current locations. Services began in the organization's Ybor City location this month and will be opening up a similar medical clinic in our St. Pete Center within the coming months, moving the organization along the path of being a comprehensive health and wellness center, providing a full array of client center services: social programs, support services and now medical care!

"The partnership solidifies our futures," says Lorraine Langlois, CEO of Metro Wellness & Community Centers. "Our foresight is providing comprehensive clinical care, support, prevention, and LGBT health resources with a combined staff of more than 120 committed specialists in the field." Langlois has grown the organization from its original founding at King of Peace Metropolitan Church in St. Petersburg in 1993. King of Peace was the first local faith-based organization to open its hearts and doors to those afflicted with HIV/AIDS in the area. Metro, with offices in Tampa, St. Petersburg and New Port Richey has been serving the HIV/AIDS and LGBT communities for 20 years and is the premier provider of such services and general health and wellness programs in the area.

There will be no changes to either organization - only a growth in our presence and prestige across the area as we continue to serve the needs of those affected by HIV/AIDS, the LGBT community and further communities at-risk. "We're on the brink of providing a full array of wrap-around services to many more in need," says Langlois.

Additionally, Metro will continue to grow and extend LGBT activities and programs so that everyone can enjoy the centers including more youth programming, senior programming, HIV prevention education and social programs, and health and wellness programs. By the end of the year - we'll also open a LGBT Welcome Center right in the heart of the Grand Central District on Central Avenue next to our current Metro Thrift and Gift. This project, sponsored by Visit Florida, will be only the second LGBT Welcome Center in the country and will serve as a hub for visitors and residents alike. The future of the project also includes a café and space for local music nights, poetry slams and more. Together with our full-service Centers throughout the Tampa Bay area and our upcoming Visitor's Center - we will continue to provide a comprehensive set of programming and health and wellness services to the LGBT community.

wellness5As you can see, there's a lot in store for Metro and the Tampa Bay community in 2013. We hope that as you celebrate this year's Pride Season, please come visit us - at our booth during the annual Street Festival and at one of our Community Centers in Ybor City, St. Petersburg or New Port Richey.

In September of this year, we will celebrate again our "20 Years Strong and Enduring" with our inaugural Metro Tampa Bay Gala on September 14 at the Tampa Bay Garden Club. The event will feature live entertainment, a silent auction, elegant edibles, cocktails and plenty of surprises. We hope that the entire community will join us this year in celebrating YOUR community centers and help us build for the future.
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