BENTON HARBOR — The OutCenter will be celebrating several Southwest Michigan residents who have stepped up and stepped out to help propel the LGBT movement forward.

The following award winners include:

• Ally of the Year: St. Joseph city commissioners

Who have helped to protect the LGBT people in the community with the passing of the non-discrimination ordinance in St. Joseph. The award was established in 2014.

• The Mark Wasil Volunteer of the Year Award: Paula Camp

For her leadership with the League of Extraordinary Genders and Southwest Michigan VOICES.

Established in 2018, the award is given to a volunteer at the OutCenter who exemplifies a commitment to the center’s mission and programs.

• Communities that Care awards

The McMartin Family: For providing important opportunities for school leaders and counselors to hear about the vulnerabilities of LGBT youth, and the work of the OutCenter to help these youth, their families and school communities.

Linh Hatch: For starting and hosting a teen podcast called “Out of the Technicolor Closet.” The podcast provides opportunities for people to hear about the vulnerabilities of LGBT in the community.

Pastor Susan Greenwood of Coloma UCC: For introducing the OutCenter to her colleagues to close the gap between the LGBT and religious community.

Alexandra Newman of The Herald-Palladium: For educating Southwest Michigan by writing about the LGBT community, their experiences and the work of the OutCenter.

LEP returns

This year’s Lake Effect Pride event takes place on June 8 at Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo.

This year, the event will have a new format with the Ally of the Year, Communities that Care and Volunteer of the Year awards being presented at a sit-down dinner at 6 p.m. and a party following at 7 p.m.

Discounted tickets are available by going to

Dinner tickets are $100 each and include access to the party. They must be bought prior to May 29 for planning purposes.

Party-only tickets are $35 each until May 19, when they go up to $40 each. They will be $50 each at the door. There is also a special $20 rate for students and confirmed volunteers for the event.