Tri-County nonprofit pushes for community center serving LGBTQ+ youth

Published: Nov. 12, 2023 at 5:50 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 12, 2023 at 11:15 PM EST
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - We Are Family, a nonprofit serving LGBTQ+ youth in the Tri-County area is pushing for a new and improved community center.

The organization’s “We Are Home” initiative will work to provide a safe space for broader education, inclusion and resources.

One volunteer coordinator, who has been with the group for nearly a year says it has been monumental in authenticating his identity and others.

“We Are Family, to me, is a space where we can give that to other people who need it, other youth,” Cal Boyce says.

Boyce adds creating a community space for LGBTQ+ youth and allies would be an important next step for the group, especially with growing numbers.

“It’s just fun to see them be excited about having a space. When we have group, we max out at like, 10 kids, and it’s absolutely packed in there.”

We Are Family is a grassroots nonprofit organization located in North Charleston and connected to the Closet Case Thrift Store.

The group was created back in 1995 to better educate and provide support for youth who need it.

“Once we find the space, follow the dreams the youth have for it,” Boyce says. “Ultimately, they are the center of the organization. If we try our best to follow through on what they want, we create what the community needs at large.”

The group has served 1557 young people between July 2022 and June 2023, according to an annual report published by WAF.

Out of $870,028 in revenue, 66.8% were provided through foundations or grants, 23% through individual fundraising and 10.2% through corporate or business means.

“A safe community for LGBTQ+ youth,” Development Manager Jessica Gaines says. “Where they are able to connect with others, gather resources and educational things and make new friends.”

Gaines says creating a youth center in the Tri-County area would only add to what is possible.

She adds the group would like to stay close to North Charleston as a central spot for community outreach.

“Other major cities like Greenville, Columbia, they all have an LGBTQ+ youth center, so it’s super important for us to be able to provide that safe space here,” Gaines says.

The group currently offers 12 life-affirming programs to community members up to age 24.

Those resources fall under three different umbrellas: youth development and social support, community advocacy and health and wellness.

Organization leaders say a community center will continue to be one of their top priorities for future development, along with updating strategic plans, deepening the impact of mental health and related assistance programs and working through board and staff development.