The Richmond Gay Community Foundation was founded in 1999 with the goal of supporting Central Virginia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The founders had a plan: to raise money so that direct grants could be provided to non-profit groups working in the trenches to make things better for LGBT people, and to work toward the day when our community would have a place to call its own.
And so we all got to work. Diversity Thrift opened in 2000, in a small place on the Boulevard. The idea was that our community and our supporters would donate household items to be sold in the store, and then the proceeds would pass back to the groups serving people directly. It was a great idea. In only a year, Diversity Thrift outgrew that space and moved to Cary Street in the Fan, to a building five times as large.
The five years on Cary St. were successful – and eventful. It was there that the RGCF Advisory Board first met, and made grants to organizations like Equality Virginia, Meals on Wheels, ROSMY and the Fan Free Clinic. It was there that Diversity Thrift first experienced a bias crime – the walls were painted with hateful slogans. And it was there that plans were made to move to a permanent home.
In 2004 the RGCF purchased 1407 Sherwood Avenue, behind the Diamond. The facility was renovated to increase operations for Diversity Thrift, the opening of Diversity Bingo, other fundraising activities, and to be built out as a real, permanent community center for Richmond’s LGBT people.
In 2008 the Gay Community Center of Richmond opened. GCCR today is one of the nation’s largest LGBT community centers, and RGCF is Virginia’s largest LGBT service agency. We are open seven days a week and provide programming for men and women, young adults and seniors, LGBT people and all those who support us – and all those who simply want to learn.
Diversity Thrift helps us to raise the funds our community needs, but it’s also another visible reminder that we’re out, and we’re proud.
Since 2000, Diversity Thrift has raised more than $5 million because of the incredible generosity of our donors from all across the Richmond area and beyond. This money provided critical support to more than two dozen community organizations, and it built our community’s home – the Gay Community Center of Richmond. More than 80% of our revenue goes to charitable programming, and we’re proud of what we all have accomplished together.
Please be sure to visit Diversity Thrift soon. You can save a lot while doing a lot of good.