serving our community

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 12, 2009 3:46 AM GMT
    hello all,

    in the past months, i have been feeling a very strong pull towards service for my community. It has been a combination of not only my natural inclination to help others and my experiences growing up a hispanic gay man, but it's like i've been seeing signs everywhere that i need to do something. i've been involved in community service in the past, but never have i felt what i feel now.

    it is really difficult to explain this feeling, but it has been getting nothing but stronger recently. as i get closer to graduation, i'm thinking more and more about my future and what i want it to look like.... having a great job doing something i love, having a loving partner, raising a family, being fit and healthy, striving for keeping my student mentality and continue on my path of discovery (of myself and the world). However, with the things i've seen in the news and around me, i can't help but feel a great deal of anxiety about the uncertainty of all of our futures.

    the economy is in the tank and has affected most of us, and apparently hate organizations' memberships are on the rise. this, coupled with our current struggles for equal rights are making for a very ugly picture. i know things will get better, but i think we are at a turning point in our history and i feel we all have a responsibility to come together as a community, to stand up in the face of adversity for what's right and just.... if not for ourselves, then for the coming generations.

    with that said, i feel a need to participate in some way to make this world a better place even if in just the smallest of ways. to that end, i started to think about what i could do, and i recalled one instance as a teenager when i was going through a particularly tough time accepting my sexuality in the hostile environment that can be middle school hallways. having no where or no one to turn to, i did the only other thing i knew to do: i googled for help. after searching for some time online to no avail, i tried it the old-school way and flipped open the phone book attempting to find some kind of support organization for GLBT youth in my community with similar results.

    i'm sorry if this is so drawn out, but i tried talking to some of my ignorant friends about my ideas and all they could do was be negative and put them down so i thought i'd write about it. to my knowledge, there is still no center oriented towards providing resources for gay youth in my city, besides one that seems to have closed their doors. i want this to be my grain in the sand.

    does anyone have any experience in this sort of thing? starting your own non-profit, working in a non-profit like this, any resources you think might be helpful? any suggestions, referrals, or comments would be greatly appreciated. i know it took me a while to get to my point, but i needed to get that off my chest. if you made it this far, thanks!

    -Luis
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    Jun 12, 2009 4:13 AM GMT
    If you're targeting youth, my thought is to start with talking with school officials, counselors, etc. I know that a lot of school systems have afterschool programs, support groups, etc for kids who are struggling or are at risk. Sometimes it really just helps to know that you're not the only one who's struggling with an issue. Adolesence can be a miserable, lonely time, nevermind being a minority who is not highly reguarded by a good chunk of the population (GLBT). What you probably want to avoid is trying to do group therapy. The goal should be a safe environment where people can talk about their experiences without fear of repercussions or anything leaving the room. If you're unsure about how to go about running a support group, attending an open 12 step meeting might be the way to go as they are not run by professionals. You can kind of gloss over the formalities (readings, prayers, etc.), but pay attention to the presentation of topics, ideas, and thoughts.

    My other thought would be to become a big brother for at risk youth. I'd probably be careful about announcing my sexuality in both environments, but I think by and large that people who work in the schools, and non-profits tend to be a good bit more socially conscious placing people before beliefs.

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    Jun 12, 2009 4:14 AM GMT
    Luis,
    Thank God for you. I am in my forties and I am feeling the pull again and I am doing it. While I am in no position to start a non profit or anything close to it, I can "plug in" by volunteering at the GLBT community center. I can volunteer as an A.I.D.S. buddy with M.A.P., our city's HIV/AIDS resource center. I am part of a letter/email campaign to our respective elected officials about the hotbed issues of our community. Whatever it is that you choose to do, make sure it is something you are passionate about. Best of luck. icon_biggrin.gif
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    Jun 12, 2009 4:25 AM GMT
    Runninchlt said

    ...

    My other thought would be to become a big brother for at risk youth. I'd probably be careful about announcing my sexuality in both environments, but I think by and large that people who work in the schools, and non-profits tend to be a good bit more socially conscious placing people before beliefs.




    I am currently a big brother in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, but this is the issue i've been facing. I don't feel at all comfortable being open about being gay in this organization as i feel that they probably don't embrace it much. in fact, during my interview the lady asked a bunch of questions about whether i smoke....do drugs....have weapons...etc, and at the end she looked at me very strangely and asked if there was anything ELSE that i thought might be important to mention....she asked me TWICE after i told her no.

    pursuing the school route is a good way to go to increase awareness of an established organization, and i've thought about that, but i'm not there yet. the other issue though is the formalities i may have to go through to be even allowed any kind of involvement in public schools as they probably need to go through school boards or something of the sort.

    thanks for your input icon_smile.gif
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    Jun 12, 2009 4:29 AM GMT
    ErikTaurean saidLuis,
    Thank God for you. I am in my forties and I am feeling the pull again and I am doing it. While I am in no position to start a non profit or anything close to it, I can "plug in" by volunteering at the GLBT community center. I can volunteer as an A.I.D.S. buddy with M.A.P., our city's HIV/AIDS resource center. I am part of a letter/email campaign to our respective elected officials about the hotbed issues of our community. Whatever it is that you choose to do, make sure it is something you are passionate about. Best of luck. icon_biggrin.gif


    That's great to hear. You seem to be really involved. I really want to help kids/teens. one of the things i envision for the center is for it to be like a center point for GLBT families.... specifically focused on children of gay parents. i can only wonder how many we have in my city as i've only seen maybe a couple of same-sex parents in my lifetime here.
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    Jun 12, 2009 9:36 AM GMT
    Great to read about your desire to give back to the community! There's definitely a need for more people like you, who shrug off apathy and instead want to make a difference.

    My only guidance is that starting a non-profit consumes a TON of your energy that may be better applied, and more immediately impactful, by leveraging an already-existing LGBT service in your area. I know that Austin isn't exactly close, but that town has a lot of good opportunities to give back. And, I know that San Antonio is actually very friendly.

    See if there's a GLSEN chapter or Gay Straight Allliance in your local area that needs caring guys like you to help mentor young LGBT kids? With a town the size of SA, there's got to be at least one! And, they may just need a bit of horsepower to do what they do.

    Good luck, and keep working to make a difference. And, don't let all the naysayers stop you from improving another person's life.
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    Jun 12, 2009 9:44 AM GMT
    I found this and you might want to check it out. It is an online support group and resource center for gay parents and their kids. They also have a facebook page which might also provide some additional information to point you in the right direction of the focus you want to do. Best of luck and keep us posted. icon_biggrin.gif

    http://www.gayfamilysupport.com/
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    Jun 12, 2009 10:36 AM GMT
    Maybe the lady at Big Brothers / Big Sisters was hinting because they have Gay kids that need role models as well.. I don't know the intricacies of the organization.. do they try to match the kids up with people of similar backgrounds/likes/etc. or do they just throw random people together?

    In Detroit we have the Ruth Ellis center which helps homeless LGBT youth and according to Wikipedia is one of only four such centers in the country.
    I've never volunteered there but I have donated clothing and food several times to the center.

    Volunteerism is incredibly admirable and also a great way get to better know and understand the entire community.

    Keep up the good work and best of luck with whichever direction it takes you.
  • josephmovie

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    Jun 12, 2009 10:50 AM GMT
    I wish you all the best with this. I hope you find a situation that can make the most of your dedication and obvious kindness.

    A couple of years ago I started to volunteer work at a homeless shelter and found it to be one of the most pointless things I have ever done. Almost everyone was on the take, the staff were a nightmare to deal with and treated the volunteers with disdain. We would often show up at the scheduled time and there was absolutely nothing for us to do, so we would be sent home, or simply treated as some sort of nuisance.

    It also showed me that an unexpectedly large proportion of the people there were not interested in helping themselves or being even the slightest bit thankful for what was being done for them. This was just how they lived their lives. It was all take, take, take. There were a few exceptions, but not many, and certainly not enough to make me very cynical about the whole operation. I also came to realise that most of the management were there for the money. There is a lot of money in charity, after all.

    Oddly enough, working for a charity made me less charitable, or should I say more selective about the sort of charities I now choose to support.

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    Jun 12, 2009 12:45 PM GMT
    Your intentions are admirable, but you are biting off a really big bite in hoping to start your own organization or program. A non-profit is not just helping people. It's fund development, as well as organization and administrative nightmares that can swamp you and your efforts.

    My own process (which, of course, is only one of many, and may not be suitable for you) for developing a new non-profit like yours, would be to get some experience with an existing non-profit. Perhaps travel to Detroit and work with The Ruth Ellis Center. See first hand the work they do, the systems they have in place and the overall good and bad things that exist there.

    I would also try to find a person in the geographical area where I would like to develop my non-profit, which person was experienced in working for or developing local non-profits, to mentor me through the process. Perhaps, as one of the other posters suggested, piggyback on the success of an exisitng non-profit...let your efforts be simply another division of their work. Then you wouldn't have to go through the formation process.

    It's also critical to find sources of funds. No matter how small an operation you create, you'll need money. No matter how energized you are, you're going to need money. That may not be your expertise; you'll need someone to get grants, solicit private donations. You're going to need someone to do the administrative work...there are a lot of bureaucratic and accounting requirements for maintaining qualifications as a non-profit.

    I've seen a lot of well-meaning people come away from the non-profit arena with their dreams shattered. On the other hand, if you don't try, your dreams don't stand a chance of happening. Good luck, whatever you do.
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    Jun 12, 2009 1:00 PM GMT
    Rigsby and a couple others have made some really important points that I would just like to emphasize that you look at. Before any of that, however, what you really need to do is a community needs assessment. This will include a number of things, including identification of existing resources (not just other GLBT organizations but public spaces, local funding, etc.), the actual needs and desires of others around you (be careful to ensure that this is based on what others need, not just what you experienced or think), and your own ability to help others meet their needs. Google "community needs assessment" and you should come up with some good resources on that. That should be your first step, before anything else. You may discover that starting an organization is either unnecessary, inefficient, or impossible, or you may find that there's an existing demand that is not satisfied and the ability to help satisfy it. Do some groundwork.
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    Jun 12, 2009 1:02 PM GMT
    Luis: This is great. Do what's doable, as rigsby suggests, but give it a try anyway. Right now I'm off to volunteer at an HIV/AIDS agency, Broward House, which rigsby knows here, and my other charity involvements are with the gay community in general. Choose what you wish to support, but I agree, support SOMETHING. Good for you. icon_biggrin.gif
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    Jun 12, 2009 4:25 PM GMT
    ericsantamaria said

    .....

    My only guidance is that starting a non-profit consumes a TON of your energy that may be better applied, and more immediately impactful, by leveraging an already-existing LGBT service in your area. ......

    See if there's a GLSEN chapter or Gay Straight Allliance in your local area that needs caring guys like you to help mentor young LGBT kids? .......

    Good luck, and keep working to make a difference. And, don't let all the naysayers stop you from improving another person's life.


    Thanks for the support!

    I can imagine it is a ton of work, so i thought that initially i would piggyback off another agency or organization. For example, if there is an HIV/AIDS center (which there is) then i could make some connections there and try to get a little bit of space in their office to do some work.

    GLSEN doesn't have a chapter in San Antonio, they do have one in Dallas. There is also no school in San Antonio with a Gay Straight Alliance (at least not one that is registered with the national organization)
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    Jun 12, 2009 4:30 PM GMT
    ErikTaurean saidI found this and you might want to check it out. It is an online support group and resource center for gay parents and their kids. They also have a facebook page which might also provide some additional information to point you in the right direction of the focus you want to do. Best of luck and keep us posted. icon_biggrin.gif

    http://www.gayfamilysupport.com/


    cool, i'll look around icon_smile.gif


    Lapinblanc saidMaybe the lady at Big Brothers / Big Sisters was hinting because they have Gay kids that need role models as well.. I don't know the intricacies of the organization.. do they try to match the kids up with people of similar backgrounds/likes/etc. or do they just throw random people together?

    In Detroit we have the Ruth Ellis center which helps homeless LGBT youth and according to Wikipedia is one of only four such centers in the country.
    I've never volunteered there but I have donated clothing and food several times to the center.
    ....
    Keep up the good work and best of luck with whichever direction it takes you.


    she may have, but my ex-boyfriend is also a big brother and he recommended that i not tell them. i followed his advice since he had been a big brother with them for a while. they do match you, they have match specialists and everything.

    i'll look into the Ruth Ellis center. the only thing is that i can't afford to strictly volunteer since i recently bought a car and now im unemployed so im gonna need to be able to have a job and volunteer at the same time so i can make my payments. but i'll definitely look into job opportunities in those areas where the centers are located and maybe i'll get lucky.

    thanks for the input!
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    Jun 12, 2009 4:33 PM GMT
    Chewey_Delt saidRigsby and a couple others have made some really important points that I would just like to emphasize that you look at. Before any of that, however, what you really need to do is a community needs assessment. This will include a number of things, including identification of existing resources (not just other GLBT organizations but public spaces, local funding, etc.), the actual needs and desires of others around you (be careful to ensure that this is based on what others need, not just what you experienced or think), and your own ability to help others meet their needs. Google "community needs assessment" and you should come up with some good resources on that. That should be your first step, before anything else. You may discover that starting an organization is either unnecessary, inefficient, or impossible, or you may find that there's an existing demand that is not satisfied and the ability to help satisfy it. Do some groundwork.


    awesome. thanks for that. maybe that could be why a similar organization that was in san antonio seems to be gone now. but i'll definitely look into that
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    Jun 12, 2009 4:47 PM GMT
    We are seemingly entering the age of altruism. I salute you.

    While I can appreciate your wanting to do your own thing, consider getting your feet wet with an established organization first. My recommendation to you would be to stay away from "creating a non-profit entity" for the time being--it is something perhaps to look forward to, but not practical at this time. The administrative requirements for non-profits can be complex, it is kind of like being a CEO. You have to deal with boards, committees, fund raising, lawyers, and accountants. It is very much a business, just "not for profit" with the real profit being the community.

    Your goal seems to be to help people on a more individual level, and that is more of a volunteer type role. One such organization that comes to my mind in light of what I am reading about in your particular interests is GLSEN

    http://www.glsen.org

    hope this helps you
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    Jun 12, 2009 4:51 PM GMT
    Before I move here I was a youth tutor in the inner city in Los Angeles. Did my volunteer work for APLA for a brief stint.
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    Jun 12, 2009 4:55 PM GMT
    xuaerb saidWe are seemingly entering the age of altruism. I salute you.

    While I can appreciate your wanting to do your own thing, consider getting your feet wet with an established organization first. My recommendation to you would be to stay away from "creating a non-profit entity" for the time being--it is something perhaps to look forward to, but not practical at this time. The administrative requirements for non-profits can be complex, it is kind of like being a CEO. You have to deal with boards, committees, fund raising, lawyers, and accountants. It is very much a business, just "not for profit" with the real profit being the community.

    Your goal seems to be to help people on a more individual level, and that is more of a volunteer type role. One such organization that comes to my mind in light of what I am reading about in your particular interests is GLSEN

    http://www.glsen.org

    hope this helps you


    yes, i agree about it being a business and i'm definitely not ready for that. like i mentioned earlier, maybe i can work under someone else's roof to get started.

    unfortunately GLSEN doesn't have a chapter here, and i'd have to travel to dallas to volunteer
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    Jun 12, 2009 5:25 PM GMT
    txguy, hmm. 15 years of cumulative volunteer fire/rescue service so yes, i've felt that way for a while. it's a pleasure and rather satisfying, it's not all about the lights and sirens and it's pretty rare that we end up on the news so there's really not much glamor to it either. in the end it's the pride and satisfaction of giving back.
  • metta

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    Jun 12, 2009 6:02 PM GMT
    This is the BEST Thread! icon_biggrin.gif

    Award20Acceptance20paid20iStock_00000113



    Make sure to try here as well. icon_smile.gif
    http://www.glbtnearme.org/










    .
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    Jun 12, 2009 6:24 PM GMT
    txguy1605 said
    xuaerb said



    unfortunately GLSEN doesn't have a chapter here, and i'd have to travel to dallas to volunteer


    Just a thought...what are the requirements to get a chapter started by working with GLSEN, in other worrds is this your entry point to make an impact by helping GLSEN to organize a chapter in your area?
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    Jun 12, 2009 7:22 PM GMT
    There's no harm in looking into starting your own non-profit. See what is involved, and decide if you want to or not.

    In reference to what you were saying about middle-school and having no one to turn to in your area. I think that there are a great many gay men who had or are currently having the same problem. I know when I was that age I felt completely alone. Who can say what benefits I, or legions of others could have drawn from having someone to speak with confidentualy about 'things'.

    If your friends are not 'givers' and do not understand your gift of wanting to do things for others; don't let that bring you down.