Nonprofit organization sees increase in demand for services

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FARMINGTON — Leaders of the local nonprofit group Identity Inc. say the organization is seeing an increased demand for its services and is planning a new set of enrichment classes for the community.

The organization was created as a safe place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning and/or queer citizens in the community on Jan. 31, 2015.

James Penrod, president of Identity Inc.'s board of directors, said the organization's performance has been very good in its third year of operation.

"We're expanding our services and growing our clientele substantially," Penrod said. "I would say we had quite a lot of growth in the last year."

Dale Leedy, Identity Inc. project manager, estimated the organization saw about three to five visitors in a typical week last year at its community center at 204 W. Main St. and believes about three to five people visit on daily basis now.

The rise in clientele and demand for services has put a slight strain on the nonprofit's budget because center officials didn't think that demand would expand as fast as it has, Penrod said.

He added he is not concerned about funding, as the nonprofit is doing pretty well financially due to grants it has received to keep the center open and pay for two employees, including Leedy.

The community center almost closed in May 2016 when it needed $2,000 to pay its bills while it was housed at its former location in the vacated Andrea Kristina's Bookstore and Café at 218 W. Main St, according to The Daily Times archives.

Identity Inc. received about $2,500 in donations during that period and was able to keep the center open. The center was relocated to a smaller space at 204 W. Main St. in June 2016, where it was able to save about $300 a month in costs.

The organization plans to hire an executive director to oversee the nonprofit and expand the community center's hours of 2 to 6 p.m. on weekdays. Penrod said Identity Inc. is seeking grants for that purpose and hopes to be able to open the community center on Saturdays.

Two free enrichment classes focusing on financial literacy and sex education are being presented at the community center over the next several months.

The center will present the first of seven educational workshops on financial literacy with Wells Fargo titled "Managing Your Money" at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Classes will be held on a monthly basis, and refreshments will be served. The classes are designed to help clients learn to develop and live on a budget, understand credit and identify educational funding sources, including scholarships.

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Inc. will partner with Identity Inc. to host "Going Over the Rainbow" workshops with its first of seven monthly classes scheduled at 12:30 p.m. April 28. Leedy described the material covered in the sex education classes as "G rated" but recommended those 13 years and older attend.

He encouraged parents to attend the classes with their children as a way to make discussions on sex education easier in the future. Some of the topics being covered in the workshops include communicating about sex, anatomy, introduction to gender and sexuality, and healthy relationships.

The first class on April 28 focuses on consent and covers such areas as how to express and ask for consent in order to prevent misunderstandings, according to Leedy.

After the April 28 class, the Southwest Care Center will host free hepatitis C and HIV testing from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. and food will be provided.

The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department is hosting an informational presentation on at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the community center. The department will share information on becoming a foster parent and the process to become one.

Leedy hopes the presentation will attract potential LGBTQ families or families familiar with LGBTQ youth to potentially foster an LGBTQ child.

Information on Identity Inc. can be found on its website at http://identity-inc.org or its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/IdentityIncFarmington/.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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