Check out how these AmeriCorps members are celebrating Pride Month through service
It has been a Pride Month full of service. Every June as a tribute to those who were involved in the Stonewall Riots, Pride is celebrated. This Pride Month, AmeriCorps is highlighting members who identify as LGBTQ+ and are working in programs serving the community.
In the Pacific Northwest, LGBTQ+ AmeriCorps members serving with the Rainbow Conservation Crew in Northwest Youth Corps are helping to conserve the planet while building meaningful relationships and celebrating their identities. Fostering a safe space for Queer-identified youth while providing them the opportunity to serve, the Rainbow Conservation Crew provides pathways to conservation careers for historically underrepresented communities. Rainbow Conservation Crew even won the 2020 project of the year designation from The Corps Network, for their continued commitment to service and inclusion. Their innovative projects serve dual purposes: provide the community with meaningful improvements and ensure a positive experience for AmeriCorps members.
"What I think is amazing about having identity-specific crews is that a lot of people—including myself, when I was 16—are terrified to learn wilderness skills while having to deal with homophobia or transphobia. In [the Rainbow Crew] we don’t have to worry about that," said Mel, Rainbow Crew team lead.
In the Midwest, Lindsey was inspired to join AmeriCorps to invest in the LGBTQ+ community. Lindsey serves with the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce's PRISM (Professionalism and Refining Individual Skills in Management) program, a five-part module workforce development asynchronous series designed to discuss and walk individuals through a variety of skill development trainings. This program is designed for underserved LGBTQ+ youth ages 16-25 to help them with skills like resume writing, interviewing skills, and more.
"How can we foster acceptance in the workplace? Having these conversations. For me being an out professional has been a journey,” said Lindsey. “There has been a lot of solidarity and encouragement just being able to have those discussions openly and freely. Being able to work through my own experience while researching and developing these programs and helping folks – it’s helped me within my own journey and just trying to help others as well.”
William is working to build a sense of community amongst the cities across the state of Illinois with the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago. The institute promotes health equity and expands access to services. Through their Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network, they host Action Camp with the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance’s annual sleepaway camp for LGBTQ+ high schoolers. William is working with the Alliance and providing support for queer and trans youth.
"In high school, I did not have the best support as a queer person of color and for a long time, I didn't know what supports I needed,” said William. “Then going to Action Camp I found that it was the exact community and environment and support that I needed in high school. It may be too late for me to get that, but it's not too late for other people. Because the Alliance helps so many queer and trans youth across the state of Illinois that any help that I could give would be life changing to somebody."
These members are at the core of what it means to be an AmeriCorps member—providing support, breaking down barriers and building bridges. In the march toward full equality, AmeriCorps recognizes the achievements of the LGBTQ+ community, celebrates diversity, and is dedicated to those fighting to live freely and authentically.