Commentary: Working together will increase LGBT awareness and acceptance

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The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Ally community is made up of people from all walks of life, from the rainbow T-shirt to the business suit. At the center of this diverse community is the Gay and Lesbian Community Center, at 210 Grant St., Downtown.

There are so many challenges and opportunities working within the nonprofit sector, it would be impossible to address them all. However, there is an essential and simple step we can all take to face the challenges present in the communities in which we serve to enrich not only our own individual organizations but the region overall.

In these hard economic times, collaboration is important for both community organizations and nonprofits.

Knowing our neighbors and working together towards the common good is how we can create the diversity we need for our communities to flourish. We view collaborations with other organizations and service providers as a great opportunity to forge new community-centered alliances. These collaborations also help open agencies to open their doors wider and provide services effectively to more people.

Collaboration is imperative in increasing awareness of the need to be accepting and tolerant of all people no matter how they identify.

Collaboration also is an essential step for any organization to become more resourceful, because no one group has all the answers. Networking has been beneficial for the GLCC, the organizations we collaborate with and the community as a whole.

Community-serving agencies often are forced to focus on gaining funding that is prioritized by people who do not work at the grassroots level and are out of touch with the immediate needs of the community. This can force agencies to ignore the immediate needs of the community members in an effort to keep their doors open. Collaboration with other agencies is an ideal way to work within the confines of the funding we receive while still getting services to those in need.

The GLCC has been serving our community for more than 30 years and has remained a completely volunteer-run organization. We started as a phone line, operating for three hours a couple nights a week in donated space. We acquired our own physical space but later had to sue due to the homophobic views of a previous landlord. Thankfully we won our case and were able to retain that space and eventually move on.

There has been a lot of progress made over the years. The GLCC has grown and developed to be able to be centrally located and open seven days a week. Our progress was won on the tireless hours of hard work and dedication of many board members and phone line volunteers. If it were not for all the people that have dedicated their time, the GLCC would not be in existence.

It is through our various collaborations with other GLBT-serving and friendly agencies that we can provide numerous on-site services, some of which include the Friday Night Youth Drop In, HIV testing, Homeless Youth Drop In on Wednesdays, after-school programs, GED classes, Pilates classes, book clubs, an on-site 8,000-plus volume GLBT library, movie nights and more.

You can find out more on our website (www.glccpgh.org) and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/glccpgh).

employment

Lyndsey Sickler is chairwoman of the board of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh.


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