Senior cohousing progress noted

DURHAM, N.C. — Village Hearth Cohousing is moving closer to becoming a reality now that it has completed design workshops and met its new neighbors.

The 28-home development is the first 55 plus cohousing community for LGBTQ individuals, friends and allies in the U.S., its founding member Margaret Roesch said. It received city council approval in June.

Completion of the six design workshops is a benchmark along the road to the actual construction of the neighborhood. They included detailing the community’s site plan, common house plans, private home floor plans, and a variety of shared spaces dotting the land such as art studios and gardens.

Roesch shared, “We can already see ourselves stepping onto the pedestrian walkway and greeting our neighbors on the way to have morning coffee, pull weeds in the garden, exercise or take a stroll around our 15 acres.”

To that end, in late August cohousing architect Charles Durrett presented a public talk on cohousing, and in the final workshops, recommended products from door handles to solar panels and floor tiles to HVAC systems were presented to members. Features were prioritized to make the community fully customized, reflecting the values in what and how developers plan to build the community. Roesch added that on the top of the list were enhanced energy and sound control, fiber-optic Internet, solar panels and electric car charging stations. Other items more along the vein of “creature comforts” will be offered as optional upgrades.

Currently, there are 10 fully invested households and six on the exploration level. Cohousing enables its residents to have a blend of privacy while fostering camaraderie among its community members. The site consists of single-story attached homes nestled on a 15-acre wooded plot of land. It is located 20 minutes from downtown Durham, N.C. and a quarter mile from the Eno River recreational area, connected by a foot path.

The next steps on the list to tackle include completion of construction drawings by the architect, partnering with a developer, obtaining a construction loan, choosing a builder and beginning construction. Groundbreaking is expected next spring with move-in the following year.


Center awardees named

Updated Sept. 27, 2017

RALEIGH, N.C.. — The LGBT Center of Raleigh, 324 S. Harrington St., has released five of the six 2017 award recipient names for its Oct. 6 awards gala.

Mayor Nancy McFarlane has received the LGBTQ Ally of the Year award. She has “been there for us,” the center shared, when it needed to file for a new permit or secure other services for Out! Raleigh. “Because she believes in the value of every individual in Raleigh, we’ve always known that she has our back for important issues that affect our community,” the center added.

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic has been given the designation of Organization of the Year. The organization has been at the forefront of providing compassionate care for everyone in a judgment-free environment, especially the LGBTQ community, the center shared.

Holly Owens has been named Program Volunteer of the Year. She has run and maintained the Raleigh Allies program at the center and has shown commitment to it, the center and the community.

Alex Thomas will receive the Center Volunteer of the Year award. His tenure with the center began in 2013 fresh out of college from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He chose to volunteer to “learn how to be more gay,” he shared.

Jenna Travis has received the Rising Star of the Year award. They have been involved with the center since 2014 and has been on the youth leadership team and other roles.

Rev. Dr. William Barber II has been named as the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award. He has been on the forefront of championing civil liberties and was an outspoken opponent of HB2 and HB142 among a host of other issues.

Tickets are $125 through September and go up to $150 in October. They are available for purchase online. The gala to be held at the Sheraton Hotel Downtown Raleigh, 421 S. Salisbury St., beginning at 7 p.m.


Gala tickets go live

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Equality North Carolina 2017 Equality Gala will be held on Oct. 21 at the downtown Raleigh Marriott, 500 Fayetteville St.

Keynote speaker for the event is Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, director of external relations at the National Center for Transgender Equality, where she oversees public education and field organizing operations.

Freedman-Gurspan was the first openly transgender staff person to work at the White House.

She has also served as a senior associate director for public engagement, where she served as the primary liaison to the LGBTQ community, and outreach and recruitment director for presidential personnel at the White House from 2015-2017. She currently sits on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council as an appointee named by former President Barack Obama. Freedman-Gurspan has worked in non-profit and government sectors for nearly a decade.

A graduate of St. Olaf College in Minnesota, she was adopted from Honduras and grew up in Brookline, Mass.

The event includes awards presentations, dinner and dancing.

Tickets are now available online and are going quickly. Visit to learn more.


AIDS walk registration opens

RALEIGH, N.C. — The annual AIDS Walk & 5K Run will take place on Oct. 21, 8 a.m., at Dix Park and registration is now open for those who participate in the fundraiser for the Alliance of AIDS Services – Carolinas, the LGBT Center of Raleigh, Crape Myrtle Festival and NC AIDS Action Network.

All fitness levels are welcome to participate individually or as a team. Additionally, organizers “encourage everyone to participate in non-traditional running/walking attire. Don’t want to get dressed the morning of the Walk? Wear your pajamas. Always wanted to run as your favorite Super Hero? Go for it. Tutus and Tiaras? Of course. Into the onesie craze? Wear it to the Walk. Drag? Yas Kween!” Prizes will be awarded to the best Individual Alternative Apparel and the Best Team Alternative Apparel.


Online patient training available

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Health Care and School of Medicine are offering over 50 different online, on-demand, continuing medical education and educational unit training courses targeted at LGBTQ patient-centered care.

These courses are free to the University of North Carolina Medical Center staff and are interactive eLearning courses and recorded webinars.

Registration is available online at


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Does your organization or special interest group have events or great information to share with our readers? If so, be sure to send in your information to In the upcoming months, we’ll feature one of you in our news notes section in each issue. Are you a part of a Meetup, Yahoo or Google group and do you do something that’s really newsworthy? Do you provide a service for the community or hold fundraisers for worthy causes? Do you educate the public about LGBT issues or concerns? Of course, this is only a sampling of things we are interested in. It’s the aim of these pieces to inform, enlighten and educate our readers about what we’re doing here in the Carolinas to champion LGBT rights, as well as offer resources for those who may be interested in what your group is doing.

Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.