The Pride Center of Colorado Springs is quiet on a Monday morning, as the nonprofit's executive director flips through a freshly printed draft of its overdue business directory.
It's been years since the center last published the Rainbow Pages, a listing of bike shops, real estate offices and other businesses that support the work of the center and are concerned about gay, lesbian and transgender issues.
Though ads for the latest edition were sold months ago, with publication scheduled for January, Ryan Acker shrugs off the delays. He suggests they come with the territory at a small nonprofit for which he is the only full-time employee.
"The directory was a much bigger project than we anticipated," he says.
Acker is less direct when talking about Jesse Trevino, a one-time contract worker who sold many ads in the directory and who has raised questions about the center's leadership and whether the directory will ever be published.
"Jesse was our business relations coordinator, and he's not here any longer," Acker says, dismissing a connection between his departure and work on the directory. "I can tell you that's not the reason his contract was not renewed."
Trevino disagrees, arguing that his ad sales helped save the center from closing its doors, but that his questions about when the directory would be printed ultimately got him shown out of them.
Between those accounts are signs of strain at a busy nonprofit.
Hoping for growth
Acker can point to smoke stains on books in the center's library. They're reminders of a 2002 arson fire that forced the Pikes Peak Gay and Lesbian Community Center, as it's officially known, to move from an office on West Pikes Peak Avenue.
The now-30-year-old organization more recently operated out of a tiny office off Tejon Street before finding its new, 3,000-square-foot home last year on East Bijou Street.
The new facility is essentially a long, brightly painted room divided up into spaces for meeting, lounging or working. Fourteen groups focused on health and social issues meet there, and the Pride Center also opens its doors to a Quaker ministry and a Rocky Horror Picture Show group.
Rob Beam, who joined the center's board of directors in September and has since become its president, seems excited about the new space, but he admits to challenges. The center fell behind on rent for about two weeks last winter while waiting for a grant to arrive. There have also been changes to the center's leadership, with the board's former president resigning and other members becoming inactive.
In addition to himself, Beam says, the board has added two new members since last July and is looking through applications for other additions. He contends a new board and a new directory should help the center grow into its expanded space.
"I have every confidence we will be successful," he says.
Trevino, a former bookkeeper, says he approached the center in September looking to find a gay-friendly apartment and suggestions for his job search. He soon moved to Broadmoor Terrace Apartments and started as the center's business relations coordinator, for which most of his pay would come from a 15 percent commission on ads he sold.
Getting started was a challenge, Trevino says; business contacts from the last Rainbow Pages directory had been filed in an old Budweiser box. In the following months, Trevino built a spreadsheet with dozens of contacts. That spreadsheet documents ad sales approaching $20,000.
He shifted to another accounting method late in 2007, but says he made sales of thousands more for the directory and for vendors who wanted space at PrideFest, the center's annual gathering at downtown's Acacia Park.
The money was welcomed, Trevino says, but tension mounted as the directory's publication date passed. He says he started getting calls in the evenings from business owners who had purchased ads and wondered where the directory was.
Doug Lewis, co-owner of the Spice of Life caf in Manitou Springs, says he bought into the directory with caution. He had purchased a $500 ad when the center last produced a directory in 2005, and had been disappointed when the final product was late and turned out to be less a bound directory than a pamphlet.
"I said, "Never again,'" Lewis says.
But Trevino, Lewis says, explained that things at the center had changed. So again, Lewis bought an ad. He paid $225, and was planning to pay another $225 upon seeing a proof.
Speaking in late April without having heard about progress from the center, Lewis seemed resigned to a second disappointment.
"We're just going to write it up as a donation," he said.
As it turns out, Beam expects the 62-page publication to be printed either this week or next. The cover, according to plans, will be mostly black, with "Rainbow Pages" in white letters set over a band of rainbow colors.
It's unfortunate that the directory is late, Beam admits. But he says the delay had nothing to do with Trevino's departure. And he hopes advertisers and the community will appreciate the effort.
"We're not professional publishers," he says. "We do the best we can."
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