WRAP's future is a question


The decision by the board of directors of WRAP to not renew their lease in their Braun Court facility has sent shock waves through the LGBT community in and around Ann Arbor. We are saddened to see a once vibrant organization make the difficult decision to leave its home base, but we also are aware that the decision was not easy and that the board members most likely felt they had no other choice.

It is easy to start pointing fingers, passing blame and judging the organization and its board of directors. It is much harder, and more helpful, to ask the deeper questions: Was WRAP adequately supported by the local community? Did the organization have the resources, people and talent to accomplish its mission? Was there broad enough consensus on WRAP's mission and a clear understanding of what was at stake should the organization cease to exist?

Community organizing is difficult work. It usually involves far more time, energy, money, patience, skill and tenacity than anyone anticipates when they first venture into a role as a community leader. It also can be highly rewarding and inspiring work, but only if the organization is lucky enough to have the right mix of time, talent and resources at its disposal.

WRAP has gone through several incarnations since it was first founded in the 1990's, and the organization has struggled with its identity. Some have questioned whether WRAP should become a community center or a resource center. There has always been ambiguity at WRAP with respect to its relationship with the University of Michigan and its vast student body. The one thing that has seemed clear to all who are and have been involved in WRAP is that Ann Arbor and the surrounding area needs services for the LGBT community, especially those who do not have access to services that may be provided by the university.

We ask the Washtenaw LGBT community to come together with cool heads, and to resist the temptation to place blame for WRAP's predicament. WRAP has been a fragile organization for many years and has existed to this point by the sheer will of several board members. It is understandable that they personally can no longer continue. It is up to the community as a whole, and to those who hold leadership positions already in the area, to pool their collective resources and decide how to proceed. There are many options available, including collaboration with other organizations, networking and rebuilding. It may be an exciting opportunity to create something entirely new.

To those who have struggled to keep WRAP afloat through these trying times, we thank you. To those that are willing to grab the ring and try to take WRAP to its next step, we offer our support. To those who want to blame those who tried, we suggest you keep your mouths shut.

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