The Gay and Lesbian (and Everyone)
Community Center for Palm Beach County
In January of 2007 we had
the pleasure of being asked to volunteer
to work with Compass; first to review
the feasibility of using the old Senior
Citizenís Center at 201 North Dixie
Highway in Lake Worth as a potential new home
for Compass, second to design how it
could be used, and third, to prepare
renderings and presentations sufficient
to convince the Town to
lease the property to Compass for 20
Upon starting the renovations, costly deferred
maintenance problems were uncovered: mold,
mildew, asbestos, termites, and water rot;
yet, using more cleverness than money, the
project finished within its original $1,500,000
These inspiring words from President Barack
Hussein Obama's Inaugural Address on January 20,
in Washington, D.C. welcome all visitors as they enter Compass, and aptly
convey the tone and tenor
of the Mission that everyone at Compass strives
so aptly, selflessly and nobly to accomplish.
visiting the facility, we were
immediately impressed with the
possibilities. The building seemed
purpose built, ideal for Compass and all
its community service programs and for all the groups that
meet in their facility on a regular
The building spoke to us, and
inspired a concept of a clean but not
clinical interior, of a professional but
open, bright and welcoming environment,
of a simple but classy design approach
far different from the DMV or a City
Hall kind of public building.
We visited the old Compass
facility and asked to be shown how its programs
worked. We pretended to be clients visiting
Compass for its many and various public
services. While we were terribly impressed
and moved by the staffís professionalism and
great compassion, we were equally appalled at
the physical condition of the cluttered offices
and cramped rooms where the interviews and
counseling took place.
We asked ourselves: What if we were 20 or 30 or
40-somethings, tired of bars and clubs but
looking for a place to relax and meet people?
What if we were retired and wanted to donate
time and services to a good cause? What if we
had joined AA and wanted a pleasant place to
attend their meetings.
The solution was a
multi-functional social center with a clubhouse
look, using indoor/outdoor furniture and
fabrics, designed so that everything can be
moved around to serve a multitude of situations,
with a white player Baby Grand Piano at the
heart of everything.
donated his three original sculptures "Free
Spirits" to grace the Great Hall, which
also serves as the library to house all the
books and videos available to the public.
We asked ourselves: If we were
young people, what would we want in a youth
drop-in room, a safe place to join friends,
watch movies, dance, do homework? And answered with a room with a
dance floor, karaoke broadcast on overhead TVís,
game tables, conversation areas, bean bag
chairs, fun lighting and dťcor Ė with the Youth
Services Office and the Cyber Center right next
As designers we thought: What if we were
troubled people coming for HIV testing, family
counseling, or needing any of the many
compassionate services that Compass provides?
And we were inspired to produce interview rooms
lined with comfortable sofa-like banquets with
lots of cheerful throw pillows, a place where
the client and counselor could meet in clean,
uncluttered, comfortable, and private rooms.
We took the worst room in the
facility, with the lowest ceiling and no
windows, and made it into the
"Zone" - a quiet
conversation room complete with an underwater
motif and Lava Lamps.
Compass boasts two outdoor
courtyards. This one is at the end of the
Great Hall, with three fountains and a fire pit
with indoor/outdoor seats around it.
A "U" shaped hall, which we named
"Main Street", links the Youth Drop-in Center,
the rest rooms, staff break room, counseling
rooms, the elevator to the confidential offices
up-stairs, and the Board Room. It is the
place where information is distributed via
posters, brochures, and magazines.
The Board Room, as well as all
meeting and counseling rooms, is WIFI ready for
anyone who brings his laptop, and all have
hi-tech flat screen presentation capabilities.
Here is a photograph of the CEO's half of the
The David Bohnett Foundation has
funded a cyber-center at Compass, open to the
general public, where guests can use the
computers, surf the internet, check email, and
take classes on computers and computer software.
The case workers, social workers,
staff psychologists, and counselors who provide
all the community services, youth and family
services, and health and education services,
under contract to various Federal, State and
County organizations, have their private and
confidential offices upstairs where the public
is not permitted. To make the work spaces
as enjoyable as possible, we punched holes
through the walls and installed windows so that,
no matter where you are, you can enjoy natural
light and a view of sunny blue skies.
Seeing the tremendous potential for meetings and
social affairs of all types and sizes, we
ordered optional round tops to go on all the
square tables so that the Great Hall could be
turned into a pre-function space for a catered
event, and the large meeting room could seat 176
for a sit-down dinner. With 250 stacking
chairs kept in the huge roomís storage closets,
and with the ability to divide the room into
three meeting or function areas, large and small
meetings and movie audiences can be accommodated
Thanks to all the generous donors and hard work
of the staff, management and Board of Compass,
and thanks to the dedicated attention to every
detail by everyone who worked on the
construction, we are
thrilled and proud to announce that the building
has finally opened to the public; and for the
first time since 2003, all the activities and
staff of Compass will be housed in one building,
the new Home of Compass in Lake Worth.
James Goodman said,
"I have always believed in the theory set forth
in Ayn Randís novel The Fountainhead, that people can be inspired and uplifted through
design. My hope is that, in this facility, I
have hit that mark." Judging by all the smiles
and applause at the Grand Opening on March 20, 2009, it
appears he was successful.
Morgan Fairchild & Gavin Newsom discuss Compass,
San Francisco Mayor Gavin
Newsom, now a California gubernatorial
candidate, spoke in the new facility just days
after it opened, and said, ďIíve been in a
hundred centers around the country, and Iíve
never seen anything this nice.Ē
Actress and advocate Morgan
Fairchild discussed the Compass community
center. Please listen to what she had to
Compass aims to diminish stereotypes by
challenging long-standing misconceptions about
the character of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender community. We accomplish this by
emboldening our youth, promoting pride in our
community, and acting as an educator, advocate,
health service provider, and focal point for
201 North Dixie Highway
Lake Worth FL 33460
To volunteer or to make a contribution, please
go to Compass' website or contact Julie Seaver at
firstname.lastname@example.org, 561-533-9699 ext.
4038, or drop
by the center. All are welcome.
Compass, Inc. is a private 501(c)(3)
not-for-profit, tax exempt organization and does
not endorse any candidate for political office.
A copy of the official registration and
financial information may be obtained from the
Division of Consumer Services by calling
1-800-321-5366 within the State of Florida. Our
Federal tax ID number is 65- 0052657.
Registration does not imply endorsement,
approval or recommendation by the State.