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May 3, 2018
           

IYG Recognizes Amelia Stephens!

Q: Introduce us to you! Your name, what you do, anything you'd like people to know.

A: My name's Amelia Stephens, I'm a transgender woman in her mid-20s in a long-distance relationship with my girlfriend and her dog (also pictured). By day, I work as a healthcare data analyst for a consulting firm. If I'm not working or volunteering at IYG, I'm usually working towards my goal of becoming a Young Adult author.


Q: When and how did you first get involved with IYG?

A: I moved to Indy about a year ago and heard about the great things that IYG was doing in the community. After getting my footing and settling in, I knew I wanted to be active in the local LGBT community and give back at the same time. Mentoring at IYG was a great way for me to accomplish both of those goals at the same time while keeping a schedule that fit well into my wider life. I've been active at IYG since November 2017.


Q: What does your day-to-day involvement as a volunteer look like?

A: My initial involvement was with the Activity Center, working a weekly shift after work. As time progresses, I find myself volunteering for different opportunities such as Basic Needs, assisting during Open House events, and hopefully in the future coordinating with IYG staff to provide programming during Activity Center hours.


Q: What inspires you to work so hard for LGBTQ+ youth?

A: Honestly? It's cathartic, have high aspirations, and they make it pretty easy to be motivated. It's hard to have a bad day coming into IYG, watching LGBTQ+ youth interact, play, and relax in a safe space dedicated to them. I feel like I'm helping give them the safe, nurturing atmosphere that many older LGBTQ+ folk never had the opportunity to experience themselves. The youth are appreciative of both the staff and volunteers who dedicate their spare time to them; it shines through every time I walk through IYG's doors.


Q:
What would you say to people considering volunteering at IYG?

A: Give it a shot. There's no harm in giving it a try and deciding it isn't for you, but there's no way to know until you try.

April 19, 2018
           

 Please click here for the Marketing and Development Intern job description.

April 4, 2018
           

Youth Spotlight
Dorian - Age 18 - Pronouns: He/Him/His


Q: What was happening in your life when you started coming to IYG: were you doing okay at school? How were things at home?
A: Dorian: When I first started coming to IYG, my therapist kept ranting saying I need to check out this place. I wasn't sure if I wanted to meet people like me yet. But then I did it, and went to the new place, I never saw the old house. School was going great. I was doing online school. I'm done with school now, an early graduate. Family was great too.

Q: How did you hear about IYG?
A: Dorian: When I first went to therapy they said I had to do some community thing and my therapist said I should check out IYG. At first I didn't want to but eventually to the very last strip of chicken I finally came, and I love it. I try to come twice a week.

Q: What went through your mind when you first heard about IYG?
A: Dorian: Last year I came out, I was 17 getting closer to 18 and felt like it was the time to come out. All my family loves me. Some of my family members are bisexual. And my therapist mentioned IYG and I didn't really want to be around people at first because wasn't sure if I would fit in.

Q: Was it hard to come to IYG the first time? Did you come with friends or by yourself?
A: Dorian: My grandma took me. We came on a Wednesday and got a tour. I like it, it was cool. It was kind of hard at first because I thought it was all gay people, I thought it was just a gay pride place. But then found out there were lots of people from the LGBTQ+ umbrella here.

Q: How long have you been coming to IYG? Why do you keep coming?
A: Dorian: I've been coming to IYG since December of 2017. I keep coming because everyone here is interesting and maybe I can snag me a date here, and I have too many straight friends.

Q: What types of IYG activities do you participate in? Why do you like participating in them?
A: Dorian: I definitely do Karaoke because I want to show everybody that I'm a good singer. I need to do other activities. I want to go to Guys Who Like Guys. I might try Open Mic Night, write a poem or get a good poem from Google to read.

Q: What has been your greatest challenge since coming to IYG (either at IYG or school or home or ???)
A: Dorian: I'm 6'5, I'm a tall person and at first at IYG I felt like I didn't fit in as well. I also thought would be more gay people here, there were a lot of trans people here and I thought there would be more gay people here who I could relate to.

Q: In general, what has IYG done for you or why is IYG important to you?
A: Dorian: IYG is important to me because it's a chill spot and I get to chill for an hour with people I love. I'm good at making people laugh and smile and that's what I do every single day. I help people through depression. I'm mainly here to chill and help people.

March 6, 2018
           

This month Indiana Youth Group is highlighting a new program that started in February and is designed to help the youth in our community that experience homelessness. Many of the homeless youth in Indianapolis identify as LGBTQ and LGBTQ youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness in their teen years than their straight peers. One in four LGBTQ youth are turned out of their home when they come out to their family, they are staying with friends, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and many are sleeping in cars or on the street. They do not have a permanent address or a solid network of support. IYG is hoping to be a little more support for them, with the Basic Needs Program.

The Basic Needs Program provides a safe place to shower, do laundry, get new clothes, food, hygiene items, and a hot meal. IYG is also partnering with nonprofits like the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP) and Adult and Child to connect these youth to more support mechanisms to get them into shelter, work, education, or a stable home. These services and partnerships are so important to connect this population that may not know where to go or what help is even out there.

The Basic Needs program runs 4-7pm Monday evenings. Indianapolis Public Schools have identified hundreds of youth who go to school and live on the streets. IYG is partnering to get those youth to our center on Monday evenings to get services and food.

It roughly costs $75 a week for the IYG to provide these basic needs. The Daun Fund, a fund of the Indiana Youth Group, has received a match challenge for $1,000 from Paula Susemichel in the month of March for the Basic Needs program. Please help IYG continue to be that safe space for the LGBTQ youth of central Indiana by donating today.

To donate click here!


Indiana Youth Group
 

February 1, 2018
           

Tom was kind enough to answer some questions about his experience with IYG.


When and how did you first get involved with IYG?

I first became involved with IYG about a year and a half ago when I met with Mary Byrne and Buffy Adams to discuss possible volunteer opportunities during my upcoming retirement. Living in Indianapolis since the mid-1970s, I had been aware of IYG and the great work it had been doing, but as I neared retirement, I wanted to devote more time and resources to the LGBTQ community and support the welcoming environment that had first been established at the 46th Street location and would be continuing at the new Activity Center on Meridian.


What does your day-to-day involvement as a volunteer look like?

I have been volunteering on Fridays for several months (except when there are Pacer games 😊), but since the first of the year I've also volunteered on most Wednesdays. I usually arrive around 3 PM and stay until 7 or 8, but hours can be very flexible. I spend most of my time in the kitchen setting up premeal snacks, assisting with serving the main meal, and doing various clean-up jobs. Its central location makes the kitchen a great place to chat with the youth and other volunteers as they arrive. I contribute one meal per month from a local restaurant and, as part of that, heat up mac and cheese as a side dish (which is the extent of my cooking abilities). When needed, I've been a room monitor on occasion, and in the near future, I hope to attend more of the open programming sessions.


What inspires you to work so hard for LGBTQ+ youth?

I'm inspired most of all by the youth, who are always respectful and appreciative of volunteer efforts. I've been incredibly impressed by how welcoming they are to new youth and their families and how they clearly thrive on the friendships they have created with one other. I'm inspired by the staff, who are true professionals and always available to address personal problems a youth might have and provide needed services and referrals. I'm inspired by the collegial relationships that develop among the volunteers and how we all seem to fit together for a common purpose. Finally, I'm inspired by the opportunity to support an organization that has had such an enduring and positive influence on LGBTQ youth in our community.


What do you look forward to this year after so much has changed at IYG?

With the spacious new Activity Center, new staff, and great leadership, I look forward to the future expansion of services to address the needs of homeless youth, to the development of the outside green space for summer activities, to greater interactions with the now-all-in-one-place staff, and to opportunities for my own personal development. I'd like to continue my life-long learning into health-related issues affecting LGBTQ youth, particularly the transgender community, and also explore the possibility of updating my mentoring skills in math and science.

 

Thank you Tom for your time and dedication to creating a safe space for the LGBTQ youth of Indianapolis to be themselves!

 

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