I recently hosted a reception at my home to introduce my friends to the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL), an organization I learned about through my participation in The Women’s Foundation’s Rainmakers giving circle.
I loved doing the event. SMYAL is such a worthy organization, and I had never heard of it before I was assigned to do a site visit last year for Rainmakers. I was totally taken with the fact that I knew so little about how at risk lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT ) youth are in this community.
I really wanted to do the "friend" raiser to educate people about this. It was very successful, with 25 or so attendees that are now better educated about LGBT issues, have new friends and had great conversations about how to get some political types involved in Arlington. Many said they would volunteer and stay involved!
At the reception, four staff members spoke for SMYAL, discussing the intricacies of how SMYAL helps gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered youth in our area become healthy, happy and productive members of our community. SMYAL has been serving LGBT youth for over 24 years, providing a variety of services and opportunities including counseling, mentoring, social activities, HIV education and prevention support and serving as a vocal advocate for LGBT youth throughout our region.
These services are more important than ever as kids are coming out and dealing with their sexual orientation at a much earlier age. Yet, they are still subject to rejection by family and friends and face violence and emotional abuse, resulting in far too much homelessness and suicide.
These issues struck me deeply and I wanted to provide a way for my friends to learn about this as well, and to provide an opportunity for them to get more involved if they’d like.
If you’re interested in getting involved, please let me know!
Heather Kaye is a member of the Rainmakers giving circle. The Rainmakers made a grant of $10,000 to SMYAL in 2007. In her professional life, Heather is the owner of Invision, LLC.