GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services, a beacon of hope in a region living in a dark closet. I need you
This is a copy of my response to 1 message I received asking me to explain my plea for support of my work:
Thank you so much for responding to my message. So far you are the only person from over 1000 of these e-mails that went out who has responded. This is one of the things I face when trying to raise money.
Let me explain our situation. I have often assumed people understand, especially local people, and I realize now most have no idea.
In November of 2009 I started GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services, Inc. because I had spent the previous 10 years as a public school teacher and also as a person abusing drugs. I survived so I wanted to give back to others. At that time I also came 'Out' very publicly as a gay man. This went hand in hand with founding and organization with the name I chose. Creating an organization of this type had never been done in Huntsville, Alabama or anywhere else in a region of the South for hundreds of miles around us. We quickly acquired our 501 (c)(3) tax exempt status and I thought we were ready to go! I expected the GLBT community here to be our major supporters and to step up happily to support a visible agency working for them to make public societal changes. I was naïve I suppose. Our community here is historically closed and I have been unsuccessful getting their support. I began offering services almost immediately even without funding because I decided this was my purpose in life, and as I said, I expected the support to come. The services have grown and grown to where sometimes I work 65 hours a week etc. but I have never been able to receive a salary and I juggle all the duties myself. I have a board of directors and many volunteers who keep our support groups going and our host home program and they also help with many events but the day to day work is mine. I simply cannot continue this way. I have no other income. All my resources are gone. They have been depleted for a long time. I put everything I have and more back into the agency. I know many people do this when they begin a business or agency but we are going on 3 years now and I simply can't continue this way. However, my opportunities to represent the community and other opportunities have grown at an amazing rate. I never expected to be accepted into the non-GLBT community here the way I have been. I am included in more and more events and speaking engagements as a representative of the GLBT community and this is helping our community be recognized in amazingly positive ways. Previously, the only time we were in the news was when people were arrested for cruising for random sex. These stories have been replaced with at least 18 TV interviews that I've been fortunate to have been part of all providing positive messages of hope and acceptance. It is not uncommon for me to receive calls as a resource for local news media regarding stories and I have some influence in guiding their stories. I never dreamed these things would happen and so quickly. We have had an amazing amount of print media exposure also. I expected all these things to contribute to funding. Instead they have contributed to more work and the need for more help but have not lead to funding. I have had to draw a line and tell people as I did in the message you received that I simply cannot continue this way and if they value our youth, our community, and the progress we are making then they need to step up and help. I have abandoned any sense of false pride and I am begging and pleading. Our youth, at least, are important enough for me to do this. Many people ask me about grant opportunities. I've tried some of this but they take time, I have to be given an invitation to submit proposals to most, then I get turned down. I need someone to take on this fundraising role totally but I can't pay anyone. I am up against a wall. As I've said, I can't pay myself. From my position I see more amazing things happening around me than our closeted community would probably ever imagine. We are making a difference in this community that was never done here before. My influence reaches out across this entire region. We are a beacon of hope in a region living in a dark closet.
I hope this helps you understand my situation and my request. If there is anything you can do, anyone you can talk with, please do. I sincerely thank you and appreciate you taking the time to respond.