I spent the afternoon at Kay Haring's beautiful house at a picnic for Spectrum. This is a Planned Parenthood program for LGBT teens. It provides support and a safe haven. Spectrum is a vital program, especially for a community like Berks County. There remains much intolerance, hatred and bigotry towards gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people here and youth are particularly vulnerable. Many are thrown out of their homes or are shunned by parents and families. Others are victimized through violence and harassment.
Spectrum is a program which meets Wednesday evenings and provides a place where these youth can congregate and feel safe and be themselves. No one is there to judge them, just help. Currently funding for Spectrum is provided through the Berks Community Foundation but more is needed. Whether County contributions through CDBG's or state grants, this is an important program providing a specific need in our community and it needs more support.
Listening to these kids and their stories and how much they appreciate the program was touching. I serve on the Planned Parenthood Advocates Board but, as is often the case, we Board members don't often enough get involved with all the programs. Spectrum is an interest of mine because it serves my community. Actually it serves our entire community because these teens are part of Berks County too and we need to provide them whatever support is needed. If you are interested or can assist Spectrum let me know.
Update: I've been informed that the grant from the Berks County Community Foundation has ended so funding for this important program is now over. These teens need this kind of support group, as do older young people. A new grant from BCCF is, hopefully, forthcoming but additional monies are also needed in order to expand the program. As of now their age limit is 18 and another program is needed for those folks. Of course what we really need is a GLBT community center but that's going to take someone with a lot of time to organize and facilitate.