CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — One of the largest HIV non-profits in the Carolinas has expanded services in the Queen City.

Leaders at “Rain” say a new “drop-in center” is helping an underserved part of the community.

The ribbon was cut on the center Tuesday evening. Leaders at Rain already have offices and services in Uptown, but they chose the location along Monroe Road in East Charlotte for very specific reasons.

Many people may not give the brick building a second thought, but it’s serving an important role in the community by offering full panel HIV and STI testing with no appointment needed and no questions asked.

“We don’t really have that here in the community. So it’s nice to have a central point for resources and testing and a place that is theirs,” said Rain High Impact Prevention Program Manager, Devin Cokley.

The new center is called “The drop”, which is a community-based safe space for young men of color. Studies have shown, racism, discrimination, and mistrust in the health care system may affect whether black people seek or receive HIV prevention services.

Leaders at the HIV non-profit, Rain, saw the need in Charlotte. When leaders got the keys last fall, the building was home to an old hair salon.

“I knew we were going to have a lot of work to do. We still do, but it’s really full circle seeing it come into play like this,” said Cokley.

What’s at play is reaching those in need in East Charlotte.

“We want to reach out to other populations who aren’t able to make it to our Uptown office and this is right off the bus route so it’s really accessible to other people,” said RAIN Director of Outreach, Jarmel Smith.

People entering The Drop will also be offered weekly support groups, a clothing closet and career-building services. It’s a full circle support center, made possible by the support of people in the Queen City.

“It also means a lot to the community to see that people aren’t judging them. There is so much stigma around HIV and men who have sex with men and to see all these people come out and support us is huge,” said Smith.

Grants helped RAIN purchase the building and leaders aren’t done with construction yet. Renovations are ongoing and the hope is to add a shower room and more lounge space for those who visit the center.