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This past Saturday at the Affirmations Community Center’s ninth annual Big Bash at MGM Grand in Detroit, Affirmations CEO Leslie Ann Thompson challenged the community to be shaken and stirred: Shaken by anti-LGBT words and events and stirred to take action.
To put it bluntly, she hit the nail directly on the head.
When you watch news stories about trans people being gunned down in Detroit and teenagers shooting their peers over wearing make-up and jewelry, do you shake you head and disgust or stand up and ask yourself “What can I do?” The latter could make all the difference – even if you think it’s insignificant.
Big Bash attendees could have chosen to put $20 into a slot machine and watched as their money slowly dwindled to zero. Or, they could have bet on something that’s less of a gamble and put their $20 toward light bulbs or cleaning supplies for Affirmations. A box full of snacks for LGBT youth. A shirt for a staff member. It seems like an inconsequential amount, but if all 529 attendees gave $20? That’s $10,780 going toward a good cause that won’t let them down because three cherries don’t line up. Ten grand can buy a lot of light bulbs.
But, as Thompson pointed out, there are plenty of other ways to donate that don’t require excess cash. Volunteers are always needed for events and every day uses. You could spend a few hours answering calls on the Affirmations hotline or tutor a youth who needs help with their math homework. You could donate books and movies to the Ruth Ellis Center and the Ozone House.
You could help give LGBT youth the childhood they deserve.
But it’s so much more than just youth. According to Thompson, a 70-year-old man walked in to Affirmations on Monday with his name, address and P.O. Box because he didn’t want his postman to know that he was gay. Or, as she shared on Saturday night during her keynote address, a man called the Affirmations hotline from Lebanon because he looked them up on the Internet and saw that they had someone to talk to who spoke Arabic.
Affirmations and services like it are important for everyone, and donating time, money or expertise is what keeps them going. We at Between The Lines urge everyone to contribute in any way you can to community services that give back so much. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, a high school senior or a senior citizen; everyone has something to give.
Here’s your chance: The Affirmations annual Health Fair just lost its funding from Project Healthy Living. They need supplies, volunteers and for members of the LGBT community to get the word out. Bring boxes of Band-Aids. Donate snacks. Help out as a volunteer. Come and bring your friends. The assured success of the event will prove that anything’s possible, even without the funding of larger companies and organizations.
We at BTL feel moved to action by the words of the speakers at The Big Bash and hope that everyone else did, too.
And after all, without the support of friends, families and organizations like Affirmations, where would any of us be? Just shaken, not stirred.