OpEd: 2013 Was a Good year for LGBT Americans and Richmonders
The following was sent to GayRVA as a press release via The Gay Community Foundation of Richmond:
The year 2013 was a good one for LGBT Americans. The Supreme Court decision that ended the Defense of Marriage Act, clearing the way for same sex marriage, was a huge bolster for the movement. It was also a good year locally for the Richmond Gay Community Foundation with numerous nonprofits benefitting from the Foundation’s successes. Through Diversity Bingo and Diversity Thrift, the Foundation disseminated $43,475 to area nonprofits. Since the year 2000, the Foundation has contributed about $800,000 to local organizations. The most recent grants were awarded to the following organizations:
Jewish Family Services received $2,500 to support the agency’s program that helps LGBT people adopt children. The Commonwealth of Virginia allows only married couples and single individuals to adopt a child. In 2012, Governor Robert McDonald signed the “conscience clause” making it easier for private and faith-based agencies to discriminate against LGBT prospective adoptive parents based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Since the late 1990’s, Jewish Family Services has facilitated dozens of adoptions for LGBT parents.
Rainbow Soul, the LGBT support organization of Virginia State University was granted $2,000 to send a faculty member and LGBT VSU student to Camp Pride Summer Leadership Conference at Vanderbilt University.
Minority Health Consortium was gifted $2,000 to purchase computers for the agency’s drop-in center. The agency reaches hard-to-serve African-American, Latino, gay, transgender, injecting drug using and other at-risk populations. The computers will help clients research employment, on-line courses and resume development.
ROSMY received $2,000 to grow their youth programs, provide weekly support groups, crisis intervention, a drop-in center, hotline and a safe space for LGBTQ youth, ages 11-20.
Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities was given $2,000 to create a gender and gender identity workshop to be delivered at the 2014 Harold M. Marsh, Sr. Connections Institute, a weeklong high school retreat for students across Fan Free Clinic received $2,000 in support of their transgender clinic. Fan Free is the only clinic in Virginia to offer free health care tailored to meet the needs of lower-income, uninsured transgender people. Richmond Peace Education Center was gifted $1,200 to enable the Center to intensify its training and support of LGBT youth leaders and adult programs that serve them. Also a conflict transformation program conducted by LGBT youth will be presented at the Help Increase the Peace conference.
Richmond Triangle Players was given $1,000 to defray expenses of the production of The Mormon Boy, one of RTP’s entries in the city-wide Acts of Faith Festival in 2014. Monument City Music, Inc., the governance of Richmond Men’s Chorus and Richmond Women’s Chorus, was gifted $500 in support of their annual series of concerts and programs.
Safe Harbor, a sexual and domestic violence program, was allocated $260 to purchase the Healthy Relationship Skills curriculum addressing abuse in diverse LGBT populations.
The Foundation also donates meeting space to nonprofits. It is estimated that over 7,000 people used the Foundation’s facility during 2013. “The funds we distributed are but one part of our story, shared Bill Harrison, RGCF executive director. “For example, we helped a man who fled Uganda for fear of being killed because he was gay. He had been imprisoned twice and brutally beaten the last time, all because he was an activist. We helped him find housing and a sense of community. He is now happily settled with a fulltime job. Through the local LGBT community, a life was saved.”
“Another situation involved a young transgender woman. We helped her locate an apartment, found funding for rent and actually aided in finding employment. Our help followed her being disowned by her family.”
Harrison recounted numerous examples of families in need being helped by the thrift store with donations of clothing and furniture. “And there are many theater stages in town, that when the curtain goes up, we see Diversity Thrift furniture on the sets,” he said. The Foundation also houses an art gallery which exhibited numerous shows during 2013. “Art galleries generally charge the artists up to 50% of their sales in exchange for the gallery usage. If we do charge, it is minimal. It is our way of supporting the artistic community,” continued Harrison. At present, the Foundation is hosting an exhibit on national tour, “Lawyers Without Rights,” the story of Jewish attorneys under the rule of Hitler.
“None of our successes would be possible if not for the backing of our donors and a very supportive, working board of directors. Our board, as our staff, is comprised of people committed to equality and justice. It truly is a team effort and very much a privilege for all of us to play a part in making a difference in our community.”
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