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May Department Stores heir gives Los Angeles LGBT Center $6.5 million

Los Angeles LGBT Center receives largest gift, $6.5 million, from a living person to an LGBT organization
L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center changes name to Los Angeles LGBT Center, announces expansion
Los Angeles LGBT Center, formerly L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, to build new Hollywood headquarters

The Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center — which this week changed its name to the Los Angeles LGBT Center — has received the largest gift ever given to an LGBT organization by a living person: $6.5 million.

Anita May Rosenstein, 60, of Beverly Hills, pledged the sum to the center, which will greatly expand its facilities and services in the coming years. Rosenstein is the great-granddaughter of David May, founder of the May Department Stores Co.

"My grandparents taught us that 'family values' mean you give back to your community," Rosenstein said in a statement. "If you can give, you must give.

"And because the center has an unmatched record of effective programs to help make the world a better place for LGBT people, this isn't just a gift, it's a solid investment in the entire community's future."

Rosenstein first encountered the center two decades ago, after actress Judith Light, a former board member, brought her in for a tour, said Lorri L. Jean, the center's chief executive. Rosenstein has pushed the center to expand for years, Jean said.

Rosenstein's gift comes on the heels of a massive fundraising campaign launched this week by the 45-year-old center, which changed its name to represent "the diversity and uniqueness of the many people the organization serves," according to a statement.

The center is seeking to raise $25 million to build a new facility in Hollywood that will have more than 100 affordable housing units for LGBT young adults and seniors and 100 beds for homeless youth. Donors already have pledged $19 million, according to the Center.

The facility will be built at 1116 N. McCadden Place, directly across from the center's campus at The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, and will become the center's new headquarters.

The center's current headquarters on Schrader Boulevard will become a health and medical facility catering to LGBT people — one of the world's largest, Jean said.

The center's existing health and medical facilities and programs have been strained by a burgeoning demand in recent years, officials said.

The new facility is expected to break ground in 2016 with construction expected to take two years, according to the center.

"I feel like there are more historic things happening for the center today than ever before in our 45-year history," Jean said.

Though the demand for services continues to grow, Jean said she is often asked: "Now that you have equality, do you still need the center?"

"First, I have to say we're a long way from equality," she said. "I yearn for the day when there is no need for the Los Angeles LGBT Center, but given the need we're seeing, I think that day is a long way off." 

Previously, the largest donation to an LGBT organization by a living person was a $2-million gift to Resource Center in Dallas from Eric V. Culbertson and David W. Carlson in 2011, said Rafael McDonnell, communications and advocacy manager for Resource Center.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

2:53 p.m.: Information about the second-largest donation made to an LGBT organization by a living person was added to this post.

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