Sunday, December 1, 2013
It’s December, Poppets, and that means my almost-annual article on giving. In the past, I have written about what to give. I’ve even written about how to give. This year, let’s chat about where to give. First, let’s start with the usual caveats – if you aren’t giving this year, for whatever reasons, fine. You know your budget and your heart better than I do, and I won’t judge that. And if you have a favorite charity you like, great! But if you’re looking, maybe I can help.
First, those red Salvation Army buckets outside every store…About those – in case you don’t know, the Salvation Army is notoriously anti-LGBTQ. They try to cloak it in neutrality, but only so long as the LGBTQ person is celibate. If you actually act on your orientation and attraction, they aren’t so neutral any longer. So, try not to drop your spare change in those red buckets, even though they are convenient. Instead, if you want to give to a national organization with a local focus, consider Goodwill Industries of Seattle, with a shop here in Bellingham (http://seattlegoodwill.org/shop/locations/bellingham), United Way of Whatcom County (http://www.unitedwaywhatcom.org/) or Volunteers of America of Western Washington (http://www.voaww.org/). Like the Salvation Army, all three were originally founded through faith-based initiatives, but, unlike SA, all three have evolved to stress including and embracing all people. Each is in need of donations year-round, but especially at the holidays. Contact any of these organizations for details on specific holiday donation needs.
If, however, you’d like to stay laser-focused on local charities, that’s easier than you make think. First, the organization Gender Diversity offers support to and education about gender identity/nonconformity. They are based in Seattle, and offer classes and groups here in Bellingham. Unfortunately, this article missed their big November double donation push by a month, but somehow I think they would still appreciate whatever you have to offer. Contact them for more information at www.genderdiversity.org, email@example.com, or 1-855-443-6337 (1-855-4GENDER).
The Sean Humphries House, right here in Bellingham. The Sean Humphries House provides supported housing arrangements for low-income adults living with HIV/AIDS. The House has year-round donation needs, but also has a list of special holiday requests, if you want to specialize your giving. Their list of requests, and more contact information, can be found at http://www.seanhumphreyhouse.org/ or by calling 360-733-0176.
If you want to focus specifically on youth, consider one of these two programs: Amy’s Place for Youth or Northwest Youth Services. While neither of them are exclusively LGBTQ-centric, both are accepting and inclusive.
Amy’s Place is a drop-in center for homeless and street-involved youth in Bellingham. Open on Friday and Saturday evenings, it gives teens a safe place to be, get a shower, grab some food, talk to someone. Just be off the street for a few hours. The anti-bullying codes are strict and explicitly include sexuality and orientation. Their budget is tight right now, so every little bit helps. Find out more at http://www.amysplaceforyouth.org or 360-671-5567.
Finally, Northwest Youth Services has been providing services for homeless and endangered young people since 1976. They have several programs geared toward fostering self-sufficiency, including the Queer Youth Project, which provides a safe and positive environment for LGBTQ kids and their allies in Whatcom County. Find them here: http://www.nwys.org/about-us/ or call them here: 360-734-9862.