The LGBTQ Center of Las Vegas refinances mortage and expands homeless youth services


The LGBTQ Center worked with Lexicon Bank to obtain a mortgage loan that helped secure The Center’s property for the next 10 years. The Center faced an ominous prospect in 2020 of potentially losing the organization’s location due to a looming balloon payment as part of its previous mortgage. The loan was a standard balloon payment model that included a large payment due at the end of the loan period, which would have been August of this year.

It can be challenging for nonprofits to secure refinancing without strong operating revenues over a sustained period. The Center has consistently improved its financial standing and worked hard to demonstrate to lenders that the organization’s future is not only secure, but also poised for growth in its service to LGBTQ+ residents in Southern Nevada. A compelling vision, the strengthening of operating performance, and a committed group of volunteers, staff, board members, and engaged community members, created an appealing prospect for Lexicon Bank and The Center to partner for its future.

Lexicon Bank is Southern Nevada’s first newly chartered community bank in more than a decade and CEO John Miller was excited about the opportunity to work with The Center and help preserve its landmark location. Miller describes Lexicon as a bank that “prides itself on its ability to look at businesses in the community around us and ask very genuinely, ‘How can we help.”

The Center partners with Lexicon Bank

John Waldron, executive director of The Center, indicated he is grateful to Lexicon Bank for their “perseverance in helping us find a path forward in refinancing the mortgage and thereby preserving what is the home for everyone in the LGBTQ+ community and our allies.” Refinancing The Center’s mortgage, and securing its location for the next decade, allows the organization to focus on expanding services as the number of people served consistently increases. The agreement allows The Center to safeguard its essential community services of supporting LGBTQ+ youth, adults, families, seniors, vets, people with disabilities, and the low-income and underserved residents of Southern Nevada.

Bright Star partners with The Center to serve youth

The Center announced at the beginning of 2020 that it had partnered with Bright Star Foundation to serve vulnerable LGBTQ+ youth in Southern Nevada. Bright Star Foundation was started by Claude Raffin and his late husband, Jon Gathercole, to help supplement the efforts of LGBTQ+ organizations in service to at-risk youth.

The partnership provides both organizations a greater capacity to meet the urgent needs of young LGBTQ+ residents who are on the verge of, or already homeless. In less than two months, Bright Star and The Center have helped over 20 LGBTQ+ youth with housing needs, travel arrangements to reconnect with family, securing documentation to assist with employment opportunities, transportation to and from jobs, and food for youth with food insecurities.

Rob Schlegel, board member of Bright Star Foundation and publisher of the Las Vegas Spectrum, has been the organization’s representative on the front lines, providing direct services for LGBTQ+ youth, helping to change the lives of a vulnerable population. Schlegel is transitioning many of his responsibilities to Dr. Ray MacFarlane, Trans and Gender Diversity manager at The Center, and AJ Huth, The Center’s youth programs manager, who are leading efforts for both organizations to meet the growing needs of at-risk LGBTQ+ youth. MacFarlane and Huth are working with other local agencies serving the homeless population to identify opportunities to pool resources and better serve LGBTQ+ homeless youth.

Bright Star founder, Claude Raffin, is also working with the organization’s board, and Center representatives, to develop strategies for transitional housing to ensure LGBTQ+ youth have a safe environment free from bullying and violence.

Raffin, a successful and “allegedly retired” real estate investor, is in escrow to purchase several properties, some of which will be offered to Bright Star Foundation for partnership with The Center. The apartments will provide emergency and transitional housing opportunities for homeless youth, once the buildings are purchased and rehabbed.

To learn more about Bright Star Foundation, visit