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Tulsa LGBTQ+ center optimistic about future after outpouring of donations

The Dennis R. Neil Equality Center.
KWGS File Photo
The Dennis R. Neil Equality Center.

Oklahomans for Equality was in financial trouble after it said a former volunteer allegedly embezzled funds. Now, the organization is confident about weathering the storm.

Oklahomans for Equality will likely be able to keep its doors open after an outpouring of community support.

Earlier this month, the nonprofit announced on social media that it needed to raise $100,000 by the end of Valentine's Day or risk closing its doors.

OkEq said a former volunteer of approximately eight years allegedly embezzled upwards of $130,000 from the organization.

Ever since the call to action, community members and businesses have stepped up to keep OkEq, which operates the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center downtown, above water.

The organization posted a message on social media Wednesday afternoon saying just under $94,000 had been raised.
Businesses stepped in to assist. Magic City Books pledged to donate 25% of sales revenue through Wednesday. Saturn Room bar pledged 20%. Eddie Carreno, a volunteer board member, said the donations from those businesses and more had not been tabulated yet.

"We are encouraged by and optimistic about the outpouring of support we've seen over the last few days," OkEq Board President Eric Wilson said via a press release.

In the same release, OkEq Vice President Bob Hanson elaborated on the alleged embezzlement.

"In February 2022, the former volunteer Treasurer presented a falsified audit report to the Board," the statement read. "The Board discovered this within 24 hours of receiving it."

Hanson said in the statement that OkEq dismissed the treasurer, began setting up more rigorous financial oversight and then reported the incident to Tulsa police in September 2022. He said TPD is still investigating.

Ben Abrams
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