The Uplift Outreach Center began as the dream of Spartanburg resident and activist, Eric Nolley. He envisioned a safe place for homeless and at risk youth who identified as LGBTQ+ and needed resources. The only place like this existed in Columbia, a hundred miles away.
While involved with PFLAG Spartanburg, he and fellow PFLAG Spartanburg member, Debra Foreman, began laying the ground work for this center. With the support of the local PFLAG chapter and its members, the first annual Rainbow Masquerade Ball fundraising gala was held in May 2019 to benefit the outreach center. The event raised over thirteen thousand dollars and allowed them to launch the Upstate’s very first LGBTQ+ outreach center.
The Uplift Outreach Center is now open a few afternoons a week to youth up to age 23. The board and volunteer staff hope to be able to offer enrichment, support, mental health and medical resources and expand their open hours. The ultimate goal is to find a permanent place to call home in Spartanburg and have dedicated staff within the next five years.
The center exists solely on the support of our community. If you believe that LGBTQ+ youth are in need of love and support and you would like to help us realize our goals, then we would be grateful for any gift you can offer. Here are a few of the ways you can help:
In Remembrance of Our Co-founder, Eric Nolley
Eric Nolley, 57, passed away unexpectedly on October 26, 2022 at home with his mom and sister in Princeton, WV.
Eric was much loved by his family and friends. While living in Spartanburg and the upstate of South Carolina, Eric was beloved by a host of friends and chosen family. In 2012, he founded a social group named Out and About Upstate, that provided a safe space for LGBTQ+ adults and allies to connect with each other. Eric also served on the Upstate Pride, SC board of directors for 2014 as Entertainment Chair, and then as Vice President until 2017. He also served on the PFLAG Spartanburg board of directors from 2018 to the present as Vice President and member at large. One of Eric’s biggest dreams was to provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth. This dream was realized in 2019 when Uplift Outreach Center was opened.
His positivity, sense of humor and love will be felt long into the future and he will be forever missed.