PHOTOS: Metro Inclusive Health celebrates grand opening

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Metro Inclusive Health welcomed the public into its 47,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art health and community center for its grand opening celebration on Feb. 9.

The organization, which unveiled its new name and branding Jan. 29, highlighted its many offerings with tours of its updated space as staff and clients alike provided personal testimony. Attendees were treated to a number of activities, a complimentary cookout and entertainment from the Scott and Patti show.

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Metro unveils new name, branding and renovation details

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Metro Inclusive Health–formerly Metro Wellness and Community Centers–unveiled its new name and branding while providing additional details about the organization’s state-of-the-art health and community center Jan. 29.

“For 26 years, Metro has provided healthcare services that are inclusive of all segments of our community, starting with its roots in HIV case management in 1992,” the organization’s press release reads. “The new brand, Metro Inclusive Health, is a nod to the organization’s role in serving all aspects of our community as well as a highly-modernized approach in delivering health services.”

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Metro announces grand opening for state-of-the-art health and community center

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Metro Wellness and Community Centers will welcome the public into its new, state-of-the-art health and community center during a grand opening celebration Feb. 9.

Metro currently offers personalized health and wellness services in St. Petersburg, Tampa, Clearwater and New Port Richey. The organization first began transforming its St. Petersburg location after purchasing the 47,000-square-foot building it called home in partnership with CAN Community Health in 2016. At the time, they utilized only 18,000 square feet of the campus.

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Metro to begin offering LGBTQ+ career services

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Metro Wellness and Community Centers has announced that it will offer free LGBTQ+ career services beginning Dec. 27.

The organization will provide one-hour sessions that include a mock interview and resume review with recruiter Paula Tripp. Tripp is a certified professional in Human Resources with a Masters in HR Management and 15 years of experience.

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Denise Johnson: Pasco Pride and Florida Trans Proud founder

By : Chance Martinez Colon
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I think if someone were to look up the term “remarkable person” in the dictionary they would find a picture of Denise Johnson. I met Denise almost two years ago and in that short amount of time she has accomplished more than what I thought could be accomplished in a lifetime.

Denise saw a need in the Pasco County area and she worked tirelessly to fill that need. She assembled a team of people who created the Pasco LGBTQ social network. Out of that first meeting she heard from many people in the LGBTQ community that this area was in desperate need of a Pride celebration where everyone, especially those who identify as LGBTQ, could be themselves and be accepted for who they are and who they love. She quickly got busy and assembled a Pasco Pride Board of Directors and worked tirelessly with community leaders, businesses and citizens to make the first ever Pasco Pride not only happen, but make it bigger than anyone even imagined.

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LGBTQ accommodations platform FabStayz launching in Tampa Bay

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA |FabStayz, an online platform seeking to eliminate the coming out process for LGBTQ travelers booking accommodations worldwide, will launch in Tampa Bay Jan. 2019.

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Metro Wellness observes 30th World AIDS Day with extensive testing, educational campaign

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA BAY | Metro Wellness and Community Centers will observe the 30th annual World AIDS Day Nov. 29-Dec. 7 with “Let’s Talk,” a campaign featuring educational and testing opportunities across Tampa Bay.

Metro has provided free HIV testing and treatment, along with prevention and education, for over 25 years. World AIDS Day, the first ever global health day, has been held annually on Dec. 1 since 1988. It provides a worldwide opportunity to unite in the fight against HIV, show support for people living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness.

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Metro, James Haley VA, CAN hold second annual Trans Fashion Expo

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Metro Wellness and Community Centers, CAN Community Health and the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital will present the second annual Trans Fashion Expo at Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) Tampa Nov. 17 from 12 – 6 p.m.

LGBTQ+ veterans, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals are invited to step into the inclusive space for the free event. They’ll learn about available resources from local community leaders, advocates and vendors as they participate in raffles and select clothing from a full, professional boutique of attire in a safe and affirming venue.

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Metro Wellness and Community Centers relaunches LGBTQ Welcome Center

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Community leaders and advocates gathered at Metro Wellness and Community Centers’ LGBTQ Welcome Center to officially relaunch the organization’s LGBTQ safe haven Oct. 6.

The welcome center, a renovated home located in the Grand Central District, has served Tampa Bay’s LGBTQ community since its opening in 2014. Through its weekly programming, the majority of which Metro Wellness provides at no cost, it offers a gathering space for LGBTQ community members of all ages.

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Community organizations form Zero Pinellas initiative to combat HIV

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Seven community organizations have partnered to form Zero Pinellas, an initiative granted $2,207,694 over three years to reduce new HIV infections in Pinellas County by at least 50 percent.

The participating organizations—the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, The AIDS Institute, BayCare, Empath Health and EPIC, the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County and Metro Wellness and Community Centers—were granted the funds by the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg. The private foundation uses its funds to support health equity countywide.

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Tampa Bay mother shares journey of raising transgender son

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: Jake celebrating Pride (Photo courtesy Sylvie Griffiths).

BRANDON | Community advocate Sylvie Griffiths and the non-profit Turnaround Life have begun publishing a blog series detailing Griffiths’ journey raising her eight-year-old transgender son.

Turnaround Life exists to provide diverse, inclusive systems of care through development, evaluation, education and capacity building. Griffiths was approached to write a blog for their website after she began working as a consultant for the organization.

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Metro Wellness sees surge in Hormone Replacement Therapy patients

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: Trans Care Coordinator Lucas Wehle (L) and LGBTQ+ Youth/Transgender Program Coordinator Cole Foust share Metro’s offerings at St. Pete Pride’s TransPride pre-party June 22 (Photo by Ryan Williams-Jent).

ST. PETERSBURG | Metro Wellness and Community Centers — currently providing Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to 584 patients throughout Tampa Bay — has announced that nearly half of those patients have begun receiving care within the last year.

“We’ve had 275 new HRT patients and that’s without counting the 76 who are in another program that we offer,” Metro’s Trans Care Coordinator Lucas Wehle says. “Almost half of our patients have started HRT care with us within the last year… that’s huge. We’ve had a huge growth.”

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