In this episode of OutBüro Voices featuring LGBTQ professionals, entrepreneurs, and community leaders from around the world, host Dennis Velco chats with Joseph Barb founder of the LGBTQ+ Family Connections Center located in South Dakota that supports LGBTQ+ homeless youth.. Be sure to watch or listen to this full episode.
Joe has a career background in corporate human resources and had a moment of realization that turned his life to focus on the underserved LGBTQ+ community in South Dakota. Growing up in Connecticut where he had 3 LGBTQ+ community centers all nearby. However, where he, his husband and their son (pictured with him in the thumbnail/feature image) now live in South Dakota and throughout the Mid-West has very few if any community resources. This became blatantly apparent when one day he was at his barber. His barber shared that his transgender son was kicked out of his biological father’s home with just a trash bag of clothes and dropped on the doorstep of his barber and his wife, the son’s mother. Joe learned that the barber was having a difficult time finding supporting counseling for his family. From that, the non-profit was born. As of mid-2021, there are 1,764,000 homeless youth ages 13-24 in the United States.
The housing and economic insecurity is so great within our community (supported by studies), especially for youth. Youth today are more comfortable with who they are at much earlier ages than past generations. If they come out or show signs of being LGBTQ+ they still face rejection by family and can face getting kicked out of their family homes. They often are unprepared to live life on their own lacking basic life skills, work skills, and support resources. Sometimes their families make it even harder by not providing documentation such as their birth certificate or social security card leaving them unable to obtain driver’s license or state-issued ID cards. Some parents who reject their child have to be taken to court to be forced to provide the basic document. Without the basic documentation, they cannot get a job or if they can afford it, cannot rent a place to live.
Some find temporary shelter surfing couches. This, however, is not home security and luckily the US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) now recognize this.
Joe though the LGBTQ+ Family Connections Center non-profit has started providing virtual counseling with a growing team of volunteer social workers, referral to LGBTQ+ supportive counselors, and other services. He wants to provide stability and towards doing so, he has identified a property that has fully equipped private cabins with living space, a small kitchen, and a bedroom. The center also has buildings for a community center and counseling center.
The LGBTQ+ Family Connections Center will be doing more than providing a roof over the rejected LGBTQ+ youth’s heads. They will be providing counseling, job skill training to set them off on a career – not just a fast-food restaurant job, casual and work clothing, internship opportunities, and job search guidance. Remember, Joe is a past corporate HR professional.
Joe has established a strong working relationship with HUD and completed the first HUD grant application. All grants however can take 18-months to several years to be awarded. Joe is seeking business/corporate sponsorships as well. Not only will they accept personal clothing donations, but he hopes to gain corporate sponsors for technology, food, clothing, shoes, and all other basics the non-profit and these young people will need to exist, grow, and thrive into healthy, active, and successful people. If you happen to have a contact within a business/corporation that you feel might be open to helping, he’d love to chat with you.
There are LGBTQ+ youth who need help right now. Joe and his husband have been supporting this financially and Joe working on average 70 hours a week.
As mentioned, grants and corporate support take quite a bit of time to acquire. Therefore, Joe and the LGBTQ+ Family Connections Center are seeking to raise funds to purchase this beautiful property and are calling on the LGBTQ+ community everywhere to please donate. You may live in a city now, but like many, you may have migrated away from your hometown to a larger community. Not all LGBTQ+ choose to or have the financial ability to do the same. This may not be where you grew up, but can you identify with it? Can you empathize with these youth who need your help? The link to the fundraiser is: https://givebutter.com/gqZVcB
Learn more here: https://lgbtqfamilyconnectionscenter.net
Check out this short video on the center:
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