While Inside Out Youth Services still remains physically closed, we have expanded our efforts to continue to reach those most vulnerable during COVID-19. On June 30th 2020, Inside Out will be celebrating and participating in Give OUT Day, the only national day of giving for the LGBTQ+ community. We have seen excellent support for our programs despite Pride Month events being cancelled. Give OUT Day is an important way to keep the momentum going as we support youth virtually and socially- distanced. Donate to Give OUT Day here.
After assessing the needs of our community, we are maintaining a variety of programs that support youth during COVID-19. Right now, we know there are LGBTQ+ youth living in homes that are not accepting or affirming of their identities and we know that physical distancing has the unintended result of further exacerbating the isolation LGBTQ+ youth face on a daily basis. As a result, many of our young people are struggling with the loss of a job, loss of housing, are experiencing suicidality, food insecurity, depression, and anxiety. These young people rely on Inside Out Youth Services, and we have continued our support through a variety of programs. To date, we have distributed over $4,000 in grocery gift cards to our youth who are food insecure and located temporary housing for 4 of our youth who have been living in cars, couches, and the streets. We are grateful for our partnership with The Place where we handed out sack lunches 3 days a week to youth experiencing homelessness, and our ongoing partnership with Colorado Springs Food rescue to deliver boxes of food to those same youth and their families.
Our COVID-19 response and relief fund has supported these initiatives as well as funds for medical and rent support. The LGBTQ+ youth population is one of the most vulnerable, not just in our community but on a national scope. A significant portion of our youth population are residents of southeast Colorado Springs and/or people of color whose families we know are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 due to the impact of structural racism and health inequities.
In an online communication last week, our Program Manager Candace Woods wrote, “We’re finding is that we’re able to connect with youth in our region who are closeted and who wouldn’t have been able to come to our physical space, but to whom we can now provide services because they can ‘come to Inside Out’ from their beds and couches and backyard…queer youth are about to post and chat with each other 24/7 as our text channels are open and moderated. We have doubled our hours of staff drop-in time, and there are more opportunities to connect with a trusted adult.” For queer youth living in unsafe and unstable living environments, and dealing with mental or physical illness, this kind of support can be critical and lifesaving.
The need for our services has increased more than ever, and we are fortunate to receive local support for our responses. Give OUT Day is important in light of cancelled pride events and our commitment to supporting LGBTQ+ youth in the area. “Give OUT Day is more than a national day of giving for LGBTQ+ serving organizations,” says Development Director Joy Armstrong. “It is an amazing opportunity to unite as allies against isolation, to let our young people know that they are never alone, to say ‘We see you, and we are here for you’ and to collectively acknowledge that we are all stronger together.” Celebrating 30 years of Inside Out providing impactful programs to youth, our goal for Give OUT Day this year is $3,000 worth of small donations from the community. Individuals and organizations in the Colorado Springs community can donate at any point through June 30th.