No one should be shocked to read that the LGBTQ community is under attack. From our federal government planning to erase transgender people, to scurrilous bathroom bills at the state level, to the simple everyday experiences of living as a queer person in a society fueled by increasing violence, racism and religious extremism.
Electing allies is essential, but so is the work of those on the frontlines – the LGBTQ community groups doing unglamorous, but critical work to sustain and nourish the community. Funding has tightened over the past decade or so. Important accomplishments such as marriage equality often overshadow the grittier and hard-to-message, but equally essential, needs.
Most holiday projects do not clearly invite LGBTQ adults or youth. Religious affiliations are not always safe. The only exception that I know of is the Play It Forward Pittsburgh project. So, LGBTQ organizations work with our families to find resources, person by person. Some hold community dinners, others try to collect gifts on top of everything else that they are understaffed to manage.
As you plan your holiday donations this year, please consider investing in the work of these LGBTQ community groups:
Garden of Peace
Projects: Backpack gift drive. Fill backpacks with toiletries, hygiene products, gift cards and a small gift for homeless, housing insecure and transient Trans and Queer people. Also, donations for their Holiday Meal on Dec. 23.
Deadline: Dec. 15, 2018
Contact Person: Rashod Brown, Pittsburgh Regional Director
Financial Donations: Checks and money orders payable to Garden of Peace, PO Box 59114 Pittsburgh Pa 15210. Online donations can be made at paypal.me/gardenofpeace
Persad has multiple project serving different populations.
Project: Rural, isolated LGBTQ elders. Collecting Giant Eagle and Amazon gift cards in any amount. Giant Eagle and Amazon are the most useful for the specific individuals as they can be used for food, groceries, gas as well as special purchases. Please contact Kathi Boyle with specific questions.
Project: Youth Giving Tree. A wish list set up for 65 LGBTQIA+ youth identifying wishes under $25. Contact Lyndsey Sickler to be matched with a youth wish **Deadline is Dec 8.
They also have a wishlist on Amazon for youth programming needs.
All donations can be brought to front desk during business hours. Contact Lyndsey or Kathi to make other arrangements.
Deadline: Wish List – Dec. 8, Gift Cards – Dec. 20, Amazon Wishlist – ongoing
Contact Person: Lyndsey Sickler (Youth) Kathi Boyle (Elders)
Financial Donations: https://persadcenter.org/donate (please make a note on your donation for its intended purpose.)
True T Pittsburgh
Project: Finding a new venue to call home. Computers, furniture, appliance are all welcome as donations. Winter coat drive for the homeless community in collaborations with Color Me Urban and the Urban League Young Professionals. Need 100 coats.
Deadline: Jan. 2019
Contact Person: Naheen Binion / Co-Executive Director
Financial Donations: Checks to their fiscal sponsors at Kelly Strayhorn Theater/Community Theater Group to the attention of True T Entertainment. 5941 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Other groups that do not have specific holiday programming, but do have end of year needs to keep the lights on and the programs operating. They provide vital services and often work hand-in-hand with the groups above to address specific needs.
Dreams of Hope, www.dreamsofhope.org
Renaissance City Choir, http://www.rccpittsburgh.com/
PFLAG Pittsburgh, http://pflagpgh.org/
SisTers Pgh, https://www.facebook.com/sistersPGH/
TransPride Pittsburgh, https://www.facebook.com/transpridepgh/
#AMPLIFY LGBTQ Project, http://www.pghlesbian.com/amplify
Giving thanks does challenge us to invest in our community resources so they can continue to do that work that we appreciate. However, it is also critical that you continue to listen. Following these groups on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram is one way. Volunteering your time, attending meetings, and participating in year round fundraisers is important as well.
Giving thanks for the hard work these organizations do with shoestring budgets and mostly volunteer staff is not simply just a good thing to do, it is an investment in our neighbors. While progress doesn’t always include everyone, we are thankful for those who work for a more just society for all LGBTQ folx.