Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is often referred to as a "day on," not a "day off," because Americans are encouraged to observe it as a day of service. There is no shortage of service needed in the LGBTQ community. So for those looking to volunteer to help out its members, here are a few suggestions.
Since its inception 21 years ago, The Trevor Project has provided life-changing services for young LGBTQ people. And its impact on the vitality of a generation in the queer community is immeasurable. As more and more young people identify as LGBTQ its imperative they receive support when needed. For those looking to volunteer and support young queer lives, the Trevor Project offers several opportunities.
On Martin Luther King Day of Service, sign up to be TrevorChat/TrevorText or a Lifeline volunteer.
TrevorChat/TrevorText volunteers are “trained to answer instant messages or texts online from young people who are struggling with issues such as coming out, LGBTQ identity, depression, and suicide. Volunteers need access to a computer in a private location with a strong internet connection and should be comfortable with instant messaging and with using the Internet,” according to the official site.
Lifeline volunteers are “trained to answer calls on the Trevor Lifeline from young people who are feeling suicidal or need a safe, non-judgmental place to talk. This is an onsite volunteer opportunity and those interested need to live near our Call Centers which are located in Los Angeles and New York City.”
But there are also other ways to offer your time to the Trevor Project as an "Admin," "Advocacy," or "Engagement."
Be it in programs, support, counseling, or general assistance, LGBT centers need all the help they can get on MLK Day and the rest of the year. Find the nearest location at the CenterLink directory.
Homeless or otherwise impoverished LGBTQ people, especially youth, are in great need of clothing, toiletries, and other necessities. The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Youth Center needs adult sizes of new or lightly used men's and women's clothing as well as groceries and travel-size hygiene items. You can bring items to the West Hollywood Council Chambers from 7 to 9 a.m. Saturday. In other cities, check with the local LGBTQ community center for ideas on where to donate. And in some cities, there are resale shops that benefit LGBTQ or AIDS service organizations, like Out of the Closet in L.A. or the Brown Elephant in Chicago, so those are good places to drop off anything you're getting rid of.
Organizations fighting for our rights are always in need of money. You might want to donate to a major national organization or a local grassroots group. You can get ideas for the latter from a local LGBTQ publication or community center. Many large organizations are rated by Guidestar or Charity Navigator on how efficiently they spend your money, so those are sources worth checking out.
The Human Rights Campaign and its partnering organizations have created a database of local volunteering across the United States. Visit HRC.org in order to discover opportunities in your own backyard.
The online resource Go Overseas has compiled a database of opportunities to fight for LGBTQ rights abroad. Commitments are as short as a week but can extend years for folks who want to apply their skills in a variety of programs — helping youth, improving health, facing legal challenges, and more — for marginalized people across the globe. Learn more at GoOverseas.com.
Seniors are among the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community. Give them support by volunteering at organizations like SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders), which works through various programs to improve the quality of life for our elders.