SunServe does a lot. From housing insecurity to trans issues to youth and seniors and more, they reach many vulnerable segments of Broward County’s LGBTQ community. Now the community is giving them a collective “thank you.” Make that 14 collective “thank-yous.”
The nonprofit leads the pack of nominees in OutSFL’s Your Choice Awards, presented by Grieco Ford.
“We have the fortune of representing such a wonderful community here, especially in Broward and in Wilton Manors,” Tony Lima said at a celebratory ice cream party at Wilton Creamery (itself nominated for Best Ice Cream).
He’s personally nominated for Best Activist and Best Celebrity.
“The Celebrity caught me by surprise. The Activist is more my game. The accolades represent and celebrate the work we do in the community as a whole.”
The organization is also nominated in the Best LGBT-Related and Best HIV/AIDS Non-Profit categories, as well as Best Fundraiser for Best Gala.
“The level and interest around the gala last year was phenomenal,” Alex Spriggs, VP of Programs, said.
The common thread through all of SunServe’s services is mental health. That’s especially true for the trans community, which is under attack from all sides. SunServe’s Safe “T” Trans is nominated in the Best Group for Transgender category. Ryan Papciak is Director of Mental Health and oversees the group.
“They get a sense of community, a real sense that they’re not the only ones struggling with trans issues and trans identity,” Papciak said. “They find support in each other and friendship.”
Two community legends, Tiffany Arieagus and Misty Eyez Alicea are nominated for Best Local Trans Advocate.
“I feel like my calling is helping other people find their calling and helping them believe in themselves,” Misty said. “We help build people up. We at SunServe empower others because we love it.”
Her co-nominee, Tiffany, says this reflects the love she has for our community.
“It says I’m doing something good for the community. That people see I’m involved and want to make a difference. I feel like I’m part of the fabric at SunServe.”
SunServe is also being recognized for its work with people at the beginning and later parts of life. Michelle Santos is Senior Therapist for their youth program, which is nominated for Best Support Group.
“It’s about creating a safe space where they can collaborate,” she said.
Despite political attacks on LGBTQ youth, she says the kids are holding up.
“It has been hard, but they’re rallying. They’re not sitting down without a fight.”
Mario DePedro is the director of Youth and Family Services and has a clear understanding of the challenges facing young LGBTQ.
“We’re giving them support and space to be themselves. They explore their sexual orientation and gender identity. Make friends, build connections, have a sense of community and be themselves when they can’t in schools anymore.”
SunServe’s Silver Serve is up for Best Group for Seniors. Silver Serve is their monthly luncheon for LGBTQ seniors and has doubled in attendance over the past several months.
A SunServe “rookie,” Keith Premier, Development and Community Engagement Coordinator is getting love in the Best New Activist category.
“It’s humbling and exciting,” he said.
Other places that racked up a bunch of nominations include Archibalds Village Bakery, MYTH GastroBar, and Hunters Nightclub Wilton Manors. Those three are right behind SunServe with 13 nominations apiece.
Voting is now open, and you can vote once per day for each county. Visit outsfl.com/yca to vote.