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Taking the leap for LGBT+ awareness

Nick Vargas, co-founders and currently the director of development and strategy of The Source LGBT+ Center, rappel during the inaugural Visalia Over The Edge event in 2018. Approximately 90 people will rappel down The Visalia Marriott on Nov. 9, to raise $100,000 to support services for youth, elders, transgender people and their families and other programs including the Youth Leadership Academy which mentors the next generation of leaders as well as free HIV testing.
Nick Vargas, co-founders and currently the director of development and strategy of The Source LGBT+ Center, rappel during the inaugural Visalia Over The Edge event in 2018. Approximately 90 people will rappel down The Visalia Marriott on Nov. 9, to raise $100,000 to support services for youth, elders, transgender people and their families and other programs including the Youth Leadership Academy which mentors the next generation of leaders as well as free HIV testing. Special to Vida en el Valle

When you click on Nick Vargas’ Visalia Over the Edge fundraising link, you get to read some of the reasons why he is one of the many people from all over the Central Valley who are taking the leap and go ‘Over the Edge’ on Nov. 9 to raise money to support the non-profit organization The Source LGBT+ Center.

Vargas, who is one of the co-founders of The Source and currently the director of development and strategy, said the idea of having a center that serves the LGBT+ community in downtown Visalia while he was growing up “would have been absurd.”

“When I graduated from Golden West in 1995, I went to Stanford University, where eventually I came out,” wrote Vargas on his Over the Edge fundraising page. “I lived a ‘big gay life’ in San Francisco but moved back to Visalia in 2015.”

Back in the Tulare County, Vargas met Brian Poth and both “bonded over having to move back to our home town as adults. But Brian had a great idea: to open an LGBT+ center and make the changes we wanted to see.”

In just three years since Vargas and Poth started The Source LGBT+ Center, which is located on Main Street in downtown Visalia, it has “become a beacon of hope for LGBT+ people living in the Central Valley,” Poth said.

“I am grateful for everything we’ve been able to do. The Source is a work of love and a community driven effort; the product of 1000’s of people who have a dream to heal this town and make it a place where everyone feels safe and included,” Vargas added.

Besides Vargas and Poth, approximately 90 people will rappel down The Visalia Marriott on Nov. 9, to not only raise funds but also awareness for The Source LGBT+ Center which serves Tulare and Kings counties.

The inaugural Visalia Over The Edge event in 2018 was a big hit with participants and sponsors. This year, the goal of the non-profit is to raise $100,000 to support services for youth, elders, transgender people and their families and other programs including the Youth Leadership Academy which mentors the next generation of leaders as well as free HIV testing.

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Brian Poth, co-founder and executive director of The Source LGBT+ Center, rappel during the inaugural Visalia Over The Edge event in 2018. Approximately 90 people will rappel down The Visalia Marriott on Nov. 9, to raise $100,000 to support services for youth, elders, transgender people and their families and other programs including the Youth Leadership Academy which mentors the next generation of leaders as well as free HIV testing. Visalia Over the Edge Special to Vida en el Valle

“Last year’s Visalia Over The Edge was a huge success, and this year’s event promises to be even bigger. Support in the community, from businesses, other non-profits, social organizations, and local government has been outstanding, and we look forward to another incredible Visalia Over The Edge,” said Poth, co-founder and executive director of The Source.

Carlos Mendoza, president of the Tulare Kings Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, is also raising the minimum of $1,000 in pledges to rappel down Visalia’s tallest building for the second time in a row.

“I did it last year. Loved it so much I am doing it again this year,” said Mendoza, who as of Oct. 23, was at 99 percent of his target with $985 raised for the non-profit. Last year he raised a little over a thousand and this year he hopes to raise the same amount. “Please donate, this is a really good organization.”

“I believe in the message The Source has; It provides a safe, confidential environment for those people that want to be just themselves, free of judgment and just be free,” said Mendoza of supporting the organization with its biggest fundraiser of the year.

Mendoza said The Source LGBT+ center is the current non-profit of the year for the TKHCC, as the non-profit received the award last year.

Sponsorship categories are still available for businesses, service organizations, churches, social groups, clubs, and individuals by contacting Vargas at nick@thesourcelgbt.org or (415) 590-0529

For more information about The Visalia Over The Edge or to donate to any of the 80 individual rappellers or any of the 27 teams raising funds for the non-profit visit https://visaliaovertheedge.com/list.cfm

María G. Ortiz-Briones: 559-441-6782, @TuValleTuSalud

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