Yes!

Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center receives $50,000 to expand youth services

By Will Batts

[singlepic id=118 w=320 h=240 mode=web20 float=right]Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC) has received a $50,000 grant from an anonymous donor to enhance the youth services division of the organization. The program, entitled Youth Empowerment Services (YES), provides emergency assistance to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teens and young adults who are in need of financial, medical, psychological, and legal support.

The grant could not have come at a better time. Since its inception, the YES program has had more youth in need than the program could financially support, especially with the limited staff and volunteers able to commit to the program. Volunteers and staff admit to providing support from their own pockets to compensate for the large number of youth needing help. Plans to increase the capacity of the program were already underway because the number of young adults in need of the program grew sharply in the past year, specifically homeless or displaced youth in crisis. YES also encompasses the other youth-related services at MGLCC: our Queer as Youth support group for 14–19-year-olds, as well as consultation with other agencies to ensure the well-being of other lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in the Memphis area.

The suicide rate among gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teens is 2–3 times that of heterosexual youth. The rates of homeless youth are much higher, as well. We can’t continue to let that happen in our community. In the past few months, we have barely been able to keep up with the number of kids who need our help. We haven’t had the resources or the staff to provide for all of these kids. Thankfully, this grant will provide the next steps in ensuring a better future for all youth in need of our services.

The next steps will be to create a comprehensive program to assist lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth that will connect them with food, temporary or transitional housing, legal advocacy, medical aid, and more. Additionally, MGLCC will expand its emergency food pantry and clothes closet to meet the needs of youth in crisis. MGLCC had planned to create another paid staff position at the center to assist with the program’s many necessities. This grant will help make that a reality.

Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center is a mechanism for change in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people to facilitate long-term positive growth in themselves and in the community of the Mid-South. For general information about the Memphis gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer community, you can call 901-278-6422 or email info@mglcc.org.

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