Community Service: Why It Matters for the Next Generation (by Jonathan Lewis, 11936)

jonathanpicIntroduction

Over the past couple of months I’ve been reading blogs, writing, and learning about Q Center of Portland. I’ve attended their orientation in February and met some really great volunteers and staff who truly care about the wellbeing of the LGBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender) community. I was moved by the huge turnout of people who want to help the Q Center survive so that it can be a safe place for all who seek an open and accepting environment. Despite the Q Center’s ongoing issues with money, leadership, and various disputes, it’s the only community center like it in Oregon. They help people of all colors, gender identities, and age, as well as advocate for civil issues such as gay marriage. The gay community is currently seeing a huge shift in public opinion, which has sparked conversation of equality for all. It is important to teach our youth the value of community service to preserve the forward momentum by getting involved themselves.

There are many issues that are currently being addressed in the LGBT community, particularly for gay youth. HRC.org offers come statistics that provide a strong picture of the state of LGBT youth in America, “9 in 10 LGBT youth are out their friends (98%)”, “LGBT youth out to their immediate families are more likely to report being happy than those who are not out”, and “68% of LGBT youth say they hear negative messages about being LGBT from elected leaders.” Despite the continued success of marriage equality in the United States, there is still work to be done. Community service offers great opportunities for people who want to create a safe world for the next generation. There are numerous organizations with which to get involved.

The Q Center’s website is a great source to find information regarding their services and events. They offer a blog, mission statement, articles, information on how to sign up for community service, and a calendar of events. There are numerous programs that are supported by the Q Center such as; sports, coming out, LGBT and disabilities, and the senior community. There’s a program called the SMYRC (Sexual and Gender Minority Resource Center) which, “provides safe, supervised, harassment-free, and alcohol- and drug-free spaces for sexual and gender minority youth twenty-four and younger. Youth gather to participate in positive activities like art, music, community organizing, youth development, education, peer support, support groups, case management, counseling, and job readiness preparation.”

The Human Rights Campaign is another great resource that offers information on current legal events surrounding the fight for marriage equality. The HRC is the largest civil rights organization working to improve the lives of LGBT Americans. They state on their website that, “HRC envisions a world where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community. HRC also offers statistics, a blog, and list of legislators that support the LGBT rights. The HRC offers ways to help financially as a well has opportunities to advocate for local states that desire to advance the wellbeing of the LGBT community.

Another great resource for anyone wanting to get involved is the PFLAG (Parents, Family, Friends and allies untied with people who are LGBT) organization. Their websites offer meet-ups for friends and family of the LGBT community who need information on how to support their loved ones. When one of my friends came out, PFLAG was a great resource because they offered simple educational programs to help his parents deal with process of coming out. There are many ways to get involved in this organization. One could start their own PFLAG meet-up group in their town or offer educational material to people. One could also donate financially as it’s an easy way to give back to the community.

How to Get Involved

There are a number of ways anyone of any age can get involved in making our world better. There is community center in every state. Here are some links that can help you get started!

  1. http://www.pdxqcenter.org/
  2. http://www.hrc.org/
  3. http://community.pflag.org/Page.aspx?pid=194&srcid=-2

If you are in Portland I encourage to give your time to the Q Center, as it has a great friendly staff and offers top notch training classes. Just go the Q Center website, click the “Get Involved” tab on the upper left corner, click “Volunteer at Q Center”, and apply! It then asks you to fill out a short resume before they send an email regarding your orientation time.

During my time at the Q Center of Portland I met so many wonderful people who wanted to give back to their community. I just moved to Oregon from Oklahoma so it was a great way to make new friends and offer my talents to something that will benefit people for years to come!

How to Get Informed: Read Below

“SMYRC Mission & History.” Q Center RSS. N.p., 2014. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.

The SMYRC (Sexual and Gender Minority Youth Resource Center) is a program started within the Q Center of Portland. The program’s aim is to offer a safe place for younger people who wish to participate is various activities such as; art, music, and support groups. The center also provides job preparedness training as well as counseling.

“Call to Action.” Human Rights Campaign. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.

The “Call to Action” section of the HRC website list some ways in which young people can handle issues related to coming out. The list includes tips and resources to handle different relationships in one’s life such as friends, family, religious leaders, and teachers. The site includes links to websites that offer assistance as well as statistics.

“PFLAG Portland, Oregon.” PFLAG Portland Oregon. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.

PFLAG organization is a non-profit website that helps family and friends of LGBT loved ones. There are meetings that occur all over the United States that offer counseling and information regarding LGBT issues. The site also offers a “Question and Answer” section to help one through the process of coming out.

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2 comments

  1. Carissa E.

    Jonathan,

    You have written an extraordinary culminating project. I see your passion for teaching the youth about the value of community service through action and involvement in your words. I agree that instilling that value of volunteering will create a safer world for the next generation, as part of a continual process. You writing has got me contemplating my own personal responsibility not only to support and aid the community, but to share and spread that value to others, especially the youth in our lives. I applaud you on your clear presentation of the research and experiences you have accumulated. I especially appreciate your focus on three specific resources. As a reader, I am presented with thorough information on three different sites I can further research if I want to get involved personally, legally or in a supportive role.
    I would love to have had the chance to read why this theme and community work is so important to you. As a reader, I feel well-educated on where to go next to get more involved. But what specific volunteer work needs to be done? I only ask these questions because I respect your writing and fully support your topic. Thank you for sharing what you have learned this past quarter. I never knew that 68% of LGBT youth report hearing negative messages about being LGBT from elected leaders… We must make this a more supportive nation for the equal rights of all, and your writing has truly shown the importance of this issue and how to get involved.

    -Carissa E.

  2. Nikki

    Hi Jonathan,

    I wanted to comment on your blog post because I think the community work you have been doing this term with the Q center of Portland is so important in creating change within Oregon and all over for the LGBT community. I liked that you focused your blog post on the importance of getting involved in an organization like the Q center for future generations. I like that you mentioned there have been great changes made recently for the LGBT community but there is still so far to go. I agree with the main point you’re making throughout your blog post that getting involved and supporting places like the Q center is how we will create a better world for everyone. What do you think the risks of not having a place like the Q center would be on the LGBT youth community? I had a friend who used the Q center as a resource when changing her name and I was so glad that Oregon had a place like that to lend her support.

    I appreciated the links you provided in your how to get involved section and that you expanded your audience outside of the Portland area. After reading that your originally from Oklahoma I was interested if there were places like the Q center there and if so were you involved with them? Overall, I think your blog post is a great call to action. You explain why getting involved can help future generations as well as future policies within the LGBT community! I will be looking into what I can do to help.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Nikki

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