Welcome to 2017! Now more than ever!
The OutCenter is excited to roll out our signature programs along with a renewed commitment to create Communities that Care across Southwest Michigan.
Last year was another year of program growth and setting new precedents as we maintained our focus on the health and well-being of the most vulnerable, LGBTQ+ youth. Here are just a few highlights:
- In 2014 the Teen Pride Program attendance totaled 71. In 2015 it was 135, and in 2016 it was 251.
That’s a remarkable 85% increase in Teen Pride attendance from 2015 and an even more remarkable increase of 253% from 2014.
- It is of critical importance for schools to be safe places for LGBTQ+ youth throughout Southwest Michigan. To help make that happen, the OutCenter helped to establish an LGBTQ+ Alliance at a school in Berrien County. We are now helping another school, with yet another one expressing interest.
- For the first time, the OutCenter provided the Diversity and Inclusivity Training to the entire staff of the Bridgman School District! We added to this effort by leveraging the Michigan Department of Education’s recommendations from late 2016, providing crucial best practices from the State on how to make schools safe for LGBTQ+ students. More than 70 attendees from elementary, middle and high school sites attended. Superintendent Shane Peters led the way and the OutCenter remains very impressed with the Bridgman School District.
We have now trained more than 400 professionals and volunteers.
These people are your service providers, neighbors, and family.
And they are creating Communities that Care – about everyone, equally.
The OutCenter carries this work into 2017 because now more than ever, love must rule the day.
We are here to help move through any resentment or fear and grow people’s ability to be civil and mature. Now, more than ever, we are leading the charge to establish Communities that Care. We must not forget the great strides made in 2016, as well as the tragedies. With the devastating shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando and with the 2016 Presidential Election, the world changed. With these events, we are all the more diligent in making sure advocacy and love are at the forefront. Each month the OutCenter will celebrate a unique theme. January’s theme is “Spread More Love” because we know that love is the cornerstone of advocacy. February is #loveIS and March will be “Think Before You Speak”. History has shown us that change is only cultivated by being courageous enough to speak up against hate and injustice. And while speaking up against hate can be scary, don’t be afraid. As long as the OutCenter is here, you are not alone. We will continue to celebrate those of us who are fortunate enough to live and love out loud, and we will continue to stand strong with those of us who are struggling with the oppression of hate and misunderstanding. We have a lot of exciting plans for the upcoming year and now more than ever we need your help. By standing with us, you offer a voice for the voiceless. You promote positive change for the LGBTQ+ community and our allies.
As Elie Wiesel said, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
Do not be indifferent in 2017. Stand with your neighbors. Stand with the most vulnerable. Stand with each other. Be counted as someone who wants to create and live in Communities that Care. Stand with the OutCenter.
Here’s what we stand for:
- Equal Rights
- The MOST VULNERABLE
- Civil discourse
- The development of inter-dependent and loving communities
- Mutual respect
Here’s what we will stand against:
- Institutional homophobia and racism
In essence, this is the heart and soul of the OutCenter mission and programs. Please consider getting involved and making a donation. Now more than ever. Upwards and onwards!