This group is doing amazing things for LGBTQ youth
A small group of people in Ohio are doing a very big thing. They’re trying to raise a mountain of cash for LGBTQ youth in their community in a very short time period. What they’ve accomplished so far is nothing short of amazing, and proves if they can do it – we can do it.
Their goal is to raise $100,000 for the Kaleidoscope Youth Center in just 30 days.
“It’s crazy, in the beautiful way of crazy, ” Sara Hegarty says. She’s one of the 66 members of the Ohio-based leadership program called Next Level Gives, that is raising the money for the youth center. “We joke that we’re 66 maniacs on a mission.”
Undoubtedly, it’s an ambitious feat for such a short amount of time. Amid lots of uncertainty for LGBTQ youth in America, they say they’re sure they can reach it.
“We will go beyond all the realms of possibility to make the impossible, possible,” Hegarty tells Scary Mommy.
This group of strangers-turned-friends come from all different walks of life. Some identify as LGBTQ themselves. They’ve been receiving training and coaching through the Next Level Gives leadership program to become, simply stated, better humans. Part of their time is spent working on themselves individually. The rest of the time, the classmates work on making a collective, positive impact on their communities. Their goal isn’t just about the dollar amount, (although money is nice,) it’s about them working together to make sure all teens know they’re valued, loved, and matter. It’s also about putting action behind their good intentions by raising money for the youth center.
“When you read the headlines today, it makes it seem our nation as a whole isn’t protecting the LGBTQ community, and LGBTQ youth. We want to send a different message, but not by words, but through our actions,” Hegarty says.
Kaleidoscope Youth Center is more than a center for LGBTQ kids; many call it home. It’s a safe and supportive place they can go after school to talk about their feelings, read books, play games with peers and even receive STI/HIV testing. It’s a unique place that has become a staple in the community, and it’s needed now, more than ever.
Negative attitudes towards the LGBTQ community puts these youth at an increased risk for violence including bullying, teasing, harassment, physical assault, and suicidal behaviors, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The actual numbers are beyond troubling. According to a 2015 Gay, Lesbian, And Straight Education Network (GLSEN) survey, 85% of LGBTQ students said they experienced verbal harassment. 32% of LGBTQ students said they missed at least one day of school in the last month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable.
At Kaleidoscope, not only do kids 12 to 20 years old receive services and support, their parents can join support groups too.
“I heard that one mom drove over 250 miles to Kaleidoscope because there was no other place closer to bring her child,” recounts Hegarty. And that’s exactly what the group hopes to help with by their donation: outreach, especially in rural areas. The money will also go towards the center’s daily operations.
At last check, the group has raised a little over $31,000. They have five days left, which means they are in their final push with fundraising events being held in various places over the next week. It’s a lot of hard work, but their diligence and teamwork is a true inspiration.
One of the most important things Hegarty has learned through her leadership program and through raising money for the youth center is something we can all take with us.
“When you focus out, and give to others, you end up receiving so much more.”
To donate to Kaleidoscope and help Next Level meet their goal, check out their donation page.
To learn more about Kaleidoscope Youth Center, head to their website www.kycohio.org