Creating a Hub for the LGBTQ+ Communities in D.C.

Kimberley Bush and other directors from the DC LGBTQ+ Community Center tour the future location of the new LGBTQ+ Community Center.

When Wegmans enters a new market, one of the first things the local team does is get to know the community. This helps ensure we’re able to serve our future customers, both in our store and through our community outreach.

“As we prepared to open our first store in D.C., I wanted to make sure we were representing and putting our impact into the whole community,” said Wegmans Community Engagement and Communications Manager, Chris Holland. “Unfortunately, the LGBTQ+ community can often be overlooked and here in the District we have one of the highest percentages of LGBTQ+ adults in the country, so I knew it was important to build relationships with organizations that support these communities.”

That’s when Chris reached out to Kimberley Bush, executive director of the DC LGBTQ+ Community Center. The Center’s mission is to educate, empower, uplift, celebrate, elevate, and connect the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. They focus on four core areas: health and wellness, arts and culture, social and peer support, and advocacy and community building.

“I’ve been a District resident since 2008, and during that time I’ve seen firsthand the impact of the Center and the critical work that they provide to this community,” said Chris. “Their mission aligns with our giving priorities, including our focus on health, so I looked forward to the opportunity to partner with them as we moved into the area.”

One of the services the DC LGBTQ+ Community Center provides is a food pantry for community members who are food insecure; an issue that we’re passionate about at Wegmans. Since that first meeting in 2022, Wegmans has made regular donations to the Center’s food pantry and supported their annual Thanksgiving meal program, which brings together people who would otherwise be alone on the holiday.

This year, the DC LGBTQ+ Community Center is celebrating its 20th anniversary and preparing to move to a new, larger location with expanded services including showers, laundry, lockers, and mail services. The new LGBTQ+ Center will be a hub for the LGBTQ+ communities with several non-profits all co-located in the same space.

“It has been a dream of ours for some time to do what we are embarking on now, which is creating a one-stop-shop of expanded life and human supportive services,” said Kimberley. “We will be co-housed with several extraordinarily impactful LGBTQ+ organizations. We’ve always thought that it would be better to get all of us under one roof, where everyone is there to be able to provide that person with the support and care they need.”

Organizations including Capital Pride Alliance (DC LGBTQ+ Community Center’s main partner for the new space), SMYAL, the Wanda Alson Foundation, the Equality Chamber of Commerce DC, Team DC, and the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs will all have offices in the new building. There will be drop-in spaces for other advocacy groups as well, with a focus on up-and-coming LGBTQ+ organizations that the DC LGBTQ+ Community- Center can help support and grow.

In anticipation of the expansion, Wegmans signed on to sponsor the new, expanded food pantry with $55,000 toward the building costs and at least $9,000 in product to sustain the pantry. We’re also exploring additional opportunities to support the organization once the new center is open. For example, earlier this year, Wegmans Nutritionist, Marda Heumen, hosted a virtual nutrition session for seniors from the Center, a service that Kimberley hopes to grow in the future.

“It’s great to have someone like Chris; he saw in us what we could do, and he made a commitment to us,” said Kimberley. “We’ve been community partners for several years now, and we have plans for the future as well. The value of that is just extraordinary, and it makes a huge difference.”

To learn more about the new LGBTQ+ Community Center, visit their website.