Several years ago when we conducted our needs assessment, a study that helped us look at our strengths and weaknesses, one area was made clear by the participants' responses. People looked to us as a "unifier." We took that charge seriously and vowed to become an even stronger catalyst to get things done ... to bring positive change ... to promote justice and to advocate for fairness.
No better example of our good work than the recent meeting we hosted to address the needs of LGBT refugees. Several weeks ago we were contacted by Beni Dedieu Luzau, of the LGBTI Caucus of the Refugee Congress, as he needed an organization to host a community conversation about the atrocities that are committed against LGBTI people in other nations and their plights as they seek safety in places such as the United States. LGBT refugees are already trying to call the Richmond area their home and they need our help.
About 40 people attended, representing school systems, civic and social service agencies, communities of faith and immigration programs. Mr. Luzau gave vivid accounts of the violence committed against our sisters and brothers in other nations. For those fortunate enough to escape and make it to the United States, their needs are still overwhelming. Language and cultural barriers and lack of financial assets are but a few of the challenges they face. He shared that their biggest concerns were "something to eat, a place to sleep and clothes to wear."
While our community still faces challenges, none of us can even begin to imagine being jailed for life or even put to death for being LGBT. The program was an eye-opener for us. The meeting was the first step in bridging our community as we face yet another challenge.
"Being a catalyst to get things done" is what we do every day. We can only continue that charge with the community's support." Please consider donating online or by mailing a check to 1407 Sherwood Avenue, Richmond, Va. 23220. All donations are tax deductible.
Photo courtesy GAYRVA.com