Fun. Support. Advocacy.

welcome.

The OutCenter of Southwest Michigan provides support services and resources to LGBTQ+ people, their families, and allies. We also work to create change in Southwest Michigan through initiatives based on education and strong strategic partnerships.

In 2021, the OutCenter continued to make great progress, and set new precedents, helping to make Southwest Michigan an inclusive area with great impacts for kids, families, employers, and employees.

Here are some highlights:

  • 418 policies and practices promoted, enacted, and/or modified.
  • 353 families and school staff members received assistance.
  • Worked with 25+ area school communities as well as Berrien RESA.
  • Reaching more than 11,000 elementary, middle, high school, and college students.
  • 22 partner organizations organized to provide more robust and appropriate services to LGBTQ+ people and their families.

Program Priorities

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Education & Advocacy

We believe that education is part of advocacy. We work with systems throughout Berrien, Van Buren, and Cass counties to educate others about the LGBTQ+ community. We offer advocacy through education in large civic spheres, one-on-one meetings with leaders and elected officials, as well as with individuals and families.  We educate and advocate for the lives of rural communities, LGBTQ+ people, and LGBTQ+ resource centers in national settings.

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Empathy & Dialogue

We provide support, social, and discussion groups that aim to foster a safe and welcoming space for the LGBTQ+ community, in all of our diversity.  We foster dialogue between community leaders, families, and organizations. All of our programs work together to promote social justice, intersectionality, equality, and acceptance.

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Equity & Inclusion

We aim to have or promote programming that uplifts, values, and includes the voices of all LGBTQ+ people in our service area. Through our support and social programming, we aim to provide resources and support for individuals to live their most authentic selves, live their life full of purpose, and bring equity, diversity, and inclusion into every aspect of their lives.  We promote inclusion for rural LGBTQ+ centers and people in the national dialogue.

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People like what we do.

Program Recognition

Our work has been recognized by State-wide organizations and celebrated, most recently, with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Diversity Award from Lake Michigan College (2019). This is an annual award given to an organization that has excelled, in part, at “fostering understanding across cultural differences, provides extraordinary services in support of fostering and maintaining a culturally rich proficient community.” Centerlink has recognized the OutCenter as a leader among rural LGBTQ resource centers.

our board of directors

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Brook Thomas
Board Chair

Brook grew up locally in Stevensville and attained her Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Social Work from Grand Valley State University. She has worked in the child welfare and prison systems as a social worker in both Michigan and Illinois over the past decade, and is happy to be back home working at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan, which serves children who have been physically and sexually abused.

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Greg Fulmer
Vice Chair

A Michigan transplant, Greg moved to the Twin Cities area over 9 years ago. Inspired by the idea of making positive changes to his local community, Greg first became involved with his company’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group, Whirlpool Pride, where he currently leads the Community Pillar.

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John Royse
Board Treasurer

John (He/Him/His) recently retired from full-time work and is now pursuing Act II: a combination of part-time consulting, giving back to worthwhile causes in the community, and time for personal interests including travel, music, and biking. John earned an MBA degree from Washington University in St. Louis and a Bachelor’s degree with a double major in Computer Science and Economics from Denison University in Ohio.

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Carly Hubers
Board Secretary

Born and raised in Southeast Michigan, Carly is a Hope College graduate with an MA from Western Theological Seminary. She has experience in higher education, teaching students about social justice, sustainability, and community engagement.  She currently serves as a youth ministry director in Saint Joseph. She is passionate about the work of the OutCenter and believes that a community should be a place that honors the dignity of all creation.

carly@outcenter.org

Freya Gilbert 

Freya Gilbert is a Michigan transplant who grew up everywhere and nowhere as an “Army Brat.” She moved to Southwestern Michigan to attend Andrews University where she graduated with a BA and an MA in Religious Studies. She has fallen in love with this area, its natural beauty and its wonderful food.

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Jenn Scally

Jennifer is a Niles native and returned after living in Kalamazoo and earning her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Western Michigan University. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her children as well as reading, gardening, bird watching, or playing some video games.

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Zack East

Zack East is the Vice President of Business Development & Innovation for Mid-West Family – Southwest Michigan, an employee-owned broadcast company that owns 7 Southwest Michigan radio stations, multiple digital brands, and local events.

we
appreciate
their continued
support.

we love our community partners

we're here
for you

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Hours of Operation

Drop-in Center hours are 3:00-5:30 EST Tuesday through Friday

When joining  remotely:

  1. Download the Google Hangouts Meet app on your phone or computer.
  2. Then go to the OutCenter website calendar page.
  3. Select “See more details” under the program session scheduled.
  4. Next to “Joining info” select the “https” link and you will be added to the session.
  5. Or without video, simply dial the following number and enter the following PIN and # listed for that session.

NOTE: OutCenter’s Google Hangouts and Meet App are HIPAA Compliant.

Administrative Offices

Currently by appointment only. Please email maryjoschnell@outcenter.org to set up a virtual office visit.