Nation's largest suburban LGBT center opens on Long Island

HAUPPAUGE, Long Island (WABC) -- The largest suburban LGBT center in the country is now open on Long Island.

Long Island's LGBT Network held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday for its new, 15,000-square foot building on Kennedy Drive in Hauppauge.

"Today we begin a new chapter in helping all Long Islanders to be themselves, to stay healthy and change the world," LGBT Network CEO David Kilmnick said.

The multi-million dollar renovated space features a cafe, meeting and conference rooms and will offer expanded health and human services, social events and programs.

The space will also be rented to local businesses and groups for conferences and meetings.

"We welcome everybody to come here," said Carmen Quinones, of the LGBT Network. "We want everybody to come from all walks of life. We accept everyone here."

Kilmnick said the center will employ 55 people.

"Our centers are saving lives every day and this center will continue to do that not only for now, but for the next generation," he said.

Melanie Roth, of Plainview, said she's looking forward to having a space to be with her friends.

"They have like these really great hang out spaces," Roth said. "You can hang out, watch TV, play video games, just like have a place to chill with your friends."

August Simon, of Hauppauge, said the center will help strengthen the LGBT youth community.

"The hardest part about being young and being LGBT is not knowing other people like you," Simon said. "It's just incredibly isolating, so being here it makes you feel like you're part of something bigger. It really just gives a lot of hope to people."

Mathilda Cullen said it's hard to come home from college, so being around people at the center will help with the transition.

"I don't know too many people like going through similar stuff," Cullen said. "So just like having the youth and adults who have experienced like what I'm going through, it's very, very assuring."

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