In these features, 5enses highlights individuals and organizations in the community that are making a difference. They were inspired by Alert Reader Aarti Pani and community leaders Sadira DeMarino and John Duncan. Thank you, Aarti, Sadira, and John.
Want to nominate a do-gooder or a doing-gooder group? Email tips to 5ensesMag@Gmail.Com with “Do Good” in the subject line. Don’t like who we feature? Do some good deeds or start your own group and tell us about it. Remember, our community is whatever we make it.
Get Involved: Greater Yavapai LGBTQ Community Coalition
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Chris Duarte, chair of GYCC, which stands for Greater Yavapai LGBTQ Community Coalition. The GYCC provides an umbrella of support for the LGBT community of Yavapai County and, in some cases, Northern Arizona. We point anybody who wants to be involved to services, activities, events, and education around any topic that involves the LGBT community. We have monthly general meetings, a board of 11 that meets monthly in public, as well as five subcommittees.
The general meetings, which are every third Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. at the First Congregational Church, have guest speakers from the community. We just had someone from the VA come and talk about LGBT clients and health, we’ve had Competitive Arizona, ONE Community, and intend to invite the Suicide Coalition. The five subcommittees are NAZGEM — the Northern Arizona Gender Mentors Network — which works with the transgender community, Faith Bridges, which works with faith-based groups inclusive of the LGBT community and is one of the first of its kind in the country, Youth and Family, Resources and Fundraising, and Events. During regular meetings, we always discuss news within the community and event information. We run an active Facebook page. The idea of the coalition is to bring everyone together. We’re a non-partisan group. Nothing about us is political or advocacy-based. We exist to share resources. We’re community driven.
How can we get involved?
We’re always looking for people who want to be involved. The easiest thing to do is to send us questions via email. Basically, we want to be the one-stop-shopping in the county. Are you in Cottonwood and don’t know what LGBT resources are around you? Ask us. If we don’t know, we’ll find someone who does. We often recommend people looking for support to PFLAG (formerly Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). There are tons of volunteer opportunities via GYCC. If you’re looking to get involved, email a general request, and we’ll add you to the volunteer email list. Every time we do something that needs a few volunteers — like taking tickets at the door, setting up, or taking down — we send that out. You can also ask about specific opportunities through a subcommittee.
And we can always use monetary donations, too. (Editor’s Note: At the time of this interview, GYCC’s 501(C)(3) paperwork had been approved, Duarte said, and the group was waiting on final paperwork.) … In terms of the name, people do ask why it’s just GYCC for short, without the LGBT. We started going by GYCC because it’s easier to remember and we wanted to be inclusive of everyone, including people who don’t identify with any of the other letters, including alleys of people in those communities. At the end of the day, we support activities and collect resources and work with others all the way from the Goodwill Career Center to the West Yavapai Guidance Clinic, to counselors, doctors, lawyers, and anything you can think of, all to support the LGBT community.
Find out more about GYCC via Facebook or contact them at GYCCInfo@Gmail.Com.
Get Involved: Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Robin Layton, the community relations and marketing director of Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters. We provide the area’s vulnerable children with one-on-one relationships with “Bigs,” or mentors, and we’re hoping to partner with parents, guardians, volunteers, schools, and anyone else in the community to help children achieve educational success and develop better relationships. Sometimes a Big goes offsite with a Little and they plan things on a weekend like going to movies, hiking, or other activities.
Our “Littles” say it helps improve their relationships and education. We know it helps them avoid risky behavior, too. From Yavapai County court records, we know that for ages 14 through 17, people with a Big Brother are 30 percent less likely to be arrested. We provide services to children that include mentoring at school, and it’s also just a way to have a one-on-one relationship with an adult who provides a role model the child might not otherwise have. Our littles tell us they like to have someone to talk to and do things with them they wouldn’t normally get to do. It also improves their education. Ninety percent of our Littles have seen a scholastic competency increase. … We also have some Bigs who were Littles through our program. I don’t have the numbers, but it’s a very cool story. They were mentored here locally, and they come back to the community.
How can we get involved?
There are many opportunities to become a Big, and that’s on different levels. We have a School Match program where you have lunch with a child once a week. We also have family matches, where an entire family takes a child under their wing and includes them in all of their activities. We also have people volunteer at the office. So many people help us with Bowl for Kids’ Sake and our annual gala, but it can be anything from stuffing envelopes to answering phones. There are also many ways to donate. You can donate through the tax credit program. The deadline for that was extended to April 15, and it’s $400 for individuals and $800 for couples. We also have programs for planned giving and a matchmakers program.
There’s also a “Child of the Week” article in the Daily Courier, which features a child who’s awaiting a Big. … About 70 percent of our Littles come from single-parent homes, and 16 percent have no parent in the household. About 86 percent of our Littles are low income. Then again, we have some Littles who come from nuclear families who just want a mentor for their child. … At the lower end of time commitment is the School Match program, which is about one hour once a week. The high end is spending a weekend day with a child and incorporating them into your family lifestyle. That may mean picking them up in the morning, going to breakfast, going grocery shopping, seeing a movie, going on a hike, and taking them to dinner.
Find out more about Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters at AZBigs.Org, via Facebook and at 3208 Lakeside Village, 928-778-5135.