Q: What was happening in your life when you started coming to IYG: were you doing okay in school? What about at home?
A: I was in my rebellious teenage phase. Acting out, religiously angry, and on the verge of being sexually active without safe sex knowledge. I was in a position where I was not sure about my sexuality. I did not know whether I was gay, straight, bisexual, or that pansexual was even a thing. My schooling was respectively tanking due to my rebellious attitude and lack of care. My house life wasn't anything extraordinarily good or bad. I lived with my grandmother primarily. She has a small apartment, but she was more than hospitable giving me everything I needed.
Q: How did you hear about IYG?
A: I was in 8th grade when I became infatuated with a classmate. He would give me constant compliments and attention. After dating for a few weeks, he invited me to the IYG Halloween Rave of 2009. I was not a very sociable teenager, but I decided to give IYG a chance.
Q: How was your experience your first time at IYG?
A: Going to IYG for the first time on arguably the biggest attendance night was scary. Very scary. Being around the different atmosphere really put me out of my comfort zone. I practically stayed next to my boyfriend, at the time, and a couple new friends also on their first night. I remember watching them smile and have fun, and I decided that's what I want out of IYG.
Q: How long have you been coming to IYG? Why?
A: I have been coming to IYG since October 2009, so a little more than 7 years. I fell in love with the staff and how much they care about the youth. In the beginning, I had a group of about seven friends, and we would hang out almost every Friday. This group was primarily older youth, since my personality and maturity made it a better fit. Eventually, all of them aged out and/or moved away, and I was the only one from the "old group". Eventually, it was my love for the organization and youth that evolved me from a standard youth to a youth helping the staff whenever I could. I would try to do the little things here and there to make the staff's life just a tad bit easier.
Q: What types of activities do you participate in? Why do you like participating in them?
A: I used to attend "Guys Who Like Guys" and "Bi/Poly/Pan", but gradually took on a more "behind the scene" role. I preferred to help clean up or set up groups, and pitch in helping with the food. I had a strong desire to make IYG a better place, and I was fine helping with doing whatever necessary.
Q: What has been your greatest challenge since coming to IYG?
A: I believe my biggest challenge has been to try and maintain and improve my current relationship with my partner, Bella (Female Pronouns). We first met almost 4 years ago at IYG. It wasn't until about 3 years ago we connected over a friendly volleyball match. That game sparked something much more than either of us expected. Throughout our relationship, we've suffered through barrier after barrier, trying extensively to keep our feelings for each other alive. One positive I remind myself is how much we've both grown as individuals, and I hope to work through our barriers and differences and continue living a life together outside of IYG as I go through the aging out process.
Q: In general, what has IYG done for you and why is IYG important to you?
A: If it was not for IYG, I would not have the knowledge of sex and gender identify, safe sex and relationship practices, and most importantly, I would not have the most influential role models in my life. If IYG can have this positive of an impact on me (being hyperactive and impossible to deal with at times), then I can only imagine how many lives have been and will be improved thanks to the efforts of all the staff and volunteers.
Indiana Youth Group Announces Acquisition of New Activity Center and Public Phase of $2.6 Million
"The Power of Safe" Capital Campaign
$1.75 Million Committed To Campaign During Silent Phase!
Jan 17, 2017 - Indiana Youth Group (IYG) emerges from the silent phase of its capital campaign with seventy percent of its $2.6 million dollar goal raised in just six months.
Bill Osterle, Angie's List co-founder, made the announcement today. "I am proud to serve as the Honorary Co-Chair of the Capital Campaign for Indiana Youth Group alongside Chris Paulsen. In a world where our LGBTQ neighbors do not have non-discrimination laws to protect them, it is more vital than ever that our youth have a safe place to thrive. Our LGBTQ youth deserve to grow in a community that supports who they are and helps them reach their potential as healthy adults."
Indiana Youth Group provides safe places, wellness programming, education and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth (LGBTQ) and the community, including schools, employers, parents and health care providers. Nearly seventy donors including individuals, churches, corporations and other non-profit organizations have supported IYG's capital campaign during the silent phase, a period of intense internal planning and leadership gift commitments to ensure success for IYG's vision.
"We have been amazed by the support during the silent phase of the campaign and know the public phase will deliver similarly impressive results simply because of the current climate, people want to do something meaningful," said Capital Campaign Committee Co-Chair Michael Overdorf. Co-chair, Krisztina Inskeep, a parent and LGBTQ advocate agreed, "We are grateful for the efforts of our Capital Campaign Committee and thank all the donors for their investment in this vision. Now we call upon all organizations and individuals to help COMPLETE this project, to get motivated, and give. These are uncertain times in the LGBTQ community, so, frankly speaking, your contribution is more important than ever!"
Founded in 1987, by two members of the LGBQT community who witnessed an alarming trend upward in LGBTQ youth calling a suicide helpline, IYG has been located in a house near 46th and Binford since 1992. Demand for IYG's services have outgrown its current activity center. In 2015, IYG served nearly 700 youth and there were nearly 6,000 youth visits to the activity center.
Participation in IYG programs has grown exponentially in the past few years, and that trend is expected to continue. With just a nominal 25% increase (about half the rate of IYG's growth in each of the most recent years), IYG will serve an average of 245 youth per week - almost double current attendance - by 2018.
Administrative Staff moved out of IYG's current activity center in early 2016 to provide greater space for IYG's 30+ monthly programs, but the facility continues to limit the number of youth that can be served. Each year, more youth seek out IYG. With growth, other issues like limited parking, no direct access to public transportation and limited outdoor space has made the current facility nearly impossible to meet the critical demand for services. IYG's leadership wanted to ensure that the organization was prepared to meet the need for services before a situation occurred where youth would have to be turned away because of limited capacity. A larger, more functional facility will enable IYG to have a greater impact on more lives.
Chris Paulsen of Freedom Indiana and Honorary Co-Chair to IYG's Capital Campaign explained why there is such an urgent need for a larger facility to serve more youth, "LGBTQ youth are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide as their straight peers and the rate doubles to 8.4 times if the youth comes from a rejecting family." Paulsen went on to highlight some more staggering numbers, "Indiana has the nation's highest rate of students who have contemplated suicide and the second highest rate of high school students attempting suicide. One in 9 Indiana youth have attempted suicide. We need to look at youth suicide as an epidemic." Paulsen laid out the timeline and again stressed the urgency, "Ideally, we would like to raise the remaining $850,000 by April. Every single day IYG doesn't have space to serve youth in need, is a day too long."
Mary Byrne, Executive Director of IYG provided details about IYG's new home, "With monies raised during the silent phase, IYG paid cash for an incredible facility on near 38th and Meridian, that will both accommodate all of IYG's current program space needs and also will allow for sustainable future growth! Youth and staff will have the space they need to plan and participate in social and program activities more comfortably and efficiently. One of our priorities is to be even more accessible to the youth who need us the most. The new center is prominently located at a major intersection and on several bus lines, and can be easily accessed by foot, car and public transportation."
Once construction/renovation is complete, the new building will include the following features:
• Computer lab/education room
• Art space
• General activity rooms and Social Group rooms
• Large multipurpose room
• Smaller Case Management rooms
• Full ADA compliance
• Storage for food, clothing, technology, group supplies, event planning, and case records
• Large kitchen with space for preparing meals and cooking classes
• Individual and shared office spaces
• Professional training/Conference room
• 6 Gender neutral bathrooms
• Picnic area
• Performance Stage
• Fire Pit
• Multi-purpose sports and activity area
• Fenced parking area for 40 cars
Reaching the campaign goal will coincide with another historic milestone for IYG-the celebration of Indiana Youth Group's thirty-year anniversary in 2017. Indiana Youth Group is one of the largest LGBTQ youth centers of its kind across the country. It is unique in that it is a stand-alone organization serving LGBTQ youth and the community rather than being a division or arm of a larger umbrella organization.
Therefore, through collaboration and partnership with other youth-serving organizations, IYG is able to serve as a one-stop-shop for our youth who are empowered through wellness programs, social and leadership opportunities, family support services and educational programs that include homework sessions, tutoring, study groups, career and college prep. IYG works closely with medical and mental health organizations throughout the state, more than 80 GSA organizations inside Indiana schools and dozens of LGBTQ Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) at Indianapolis corporations, who provide financial and volunteer contributions.
Click here if you would like to print out a pledge form.
For more information about volunteering or supporting IYG's vision through the Power of Safe capital campaign click the green donate button or email firstname.lastname@example.org.