Have you ever called the Affirmations hotline on a particularly tough night? Gotten tested for HIV for free? Attended an LGBT workshop or seminar or lecture? Marched for equality? Reported a hate crime? Been a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender teenager with nowhere safe to hangout after school? Gone to Motor City Pride or the Michigan LGBT Film Festival?
Whoever you are in the LGBT and allied community, you’ve probably benefited in some way from the programs and services provided by Michigan’s LGBT non-profits – and now it’s time to take a look at giving something back to make sure that those organizations are there for everyone when they need them.
Sometimes it’s easy to take without giving back, especially when you’re taking from such generous community leaders who readily hand out whatever they can to those in need – or simply those in want. But it’s important to remember that the speakers who offer insight and education on important issues, the buildings that house group meetings, teenage gatherings and art shows – even the cheese and crackers people munch on during these events – isn’t free. It comes, often, from donations from private and corporate donors.
But when the donations stop coming, so, too, do the programs, workshops, events and social gatherings.
It’s no secret that virtually everyone in the state has been hit financially in some way. Now, we are all sitting on the edges of our seats waiting to see if January brings good news or even more bad for our already struggling economy.
Not everyone can afford to make donations. Some have already lost their jobs and their homes. Some cannot afford to pay their bills on time, let alone even celebrate Christmas. But there are still those of us with jobs and at least enough money to get by and still sleep at night. And though it may be easiest to wait for someone richer to bail us all out and give Michigan’s LGBT organizations the thousands of dollars they need to keep running smoothly in 2009 and beyond – we can’t count on that. As the Big 3 learned last week, bailouts we really need don’t always come.
And it’s so easy, too, to say “I have to worry about myself.” But if you and the people you care about have benefited from any of the programming of Affirmations, the Triangle Foundation, the HIV/AIDS Resource Center, Michigan Equality, the Lansing Area AIDS Network – the list goes on – then making donations to these struggling organizations not only helps you, but everyone else in the community as well.
Were you thinking of eating out at Applebees this week? Make spaghetti and use your $20 to donate. Was that DVD set you went to buy as a Christmas present on sale? Use the leftovers as a donation. Quit smoking and save the $5 a pack for something that actually makes you feel good. Start a donation pool at your work or amongst your friends.
A little bit from a lot of people adds up fast – and there are a lot of organizations that could really use it to keep their doors open and their programs running.
Financial pressures can cause arguments, climbing crime rates and unhappiness. But they can also cause us to all relate to one another and thus, to all look closely at what really matters. If the LGBT community is one of those things that really matters, let’s keep it alive and well in Michigan.