Casa Ruby, a local 24-hour drop-in/respite center for LGBT people, plans to expand with a new location to southeast Washington in 2019, Ruby Corado, its namesake and executive director, said this week. She hopes to open The Southeast D.C. LGBTQ Community Wellness Center in March.
“I have been spending time in southeast due to the issues that my clients face,” Corado said. “I have seen a huge need and I recognize that even getting on the bus or Metro is a challenge to many. I want to remove any barrier faced by the people I serve.”
The expansion is a joint project between Casa Ruby and Empowerment Liberation Cathedral, a local LGBT-affirming church helmed by Bishop Allyson Abrams. Corado is a member. Other groups are involved as well but Corado said the arrangements aren’t finalized.
Corado and her team are considering four locations. About $400,000 is needed to start the project, she said.
“(We will be) serving people living in extreme poverty,” Corado said. “I will be focusing on areas of extreme hardship. Lots of homophobia and transphobia. But I am very well known and very well accepted in the area. I’m extremely happy at the emotional support I’m getting now. … I want this to be a fully equipped center like our N.W. campus.”
Corado said the proposed new name was conceived because she wants “everyone to feel part of it.” But it will be Casa Ruby/Corado “leading and securing the full operations of the new center.”
A bank loan for $250,000 has been secured. Corado is partnering with people already doing work in Southeast Washington.
Casa Ruby opened in 2012. It has 68 employees, many of whom are among the more than 6,000 clients the center averages annually. Operating budget for 2018 was about $2.3 million; $1.3 million comes from government funding. The other $1 million is from donations. Corado said she relies on “hundreds of volunteers and lots of donations and community support.”
Corado said she originally wanted to open Casa Ruby, located at 7530 Georgia Ave., N.W., in Southeast but a lease was rejected because it was an LGBT center. Corado is trans.
Casa Ruby is serving Christmas dinner (chicken, ham and turkey) Tuesday at 4 p.m.