From The Heart
Make The World a Better Place
There are more reasons than ever before to want to give to organizations that support equality and the LGBTQ community, which bodes well for those wearing their hearts on their sleeve, with the freedom and good fortune to be able to donate time and money.
It can be such a beautiful way to express the Divine in the world, to give to those whose world may not know the same privileges and pleasures that ours does. Moreover, connecting with like minds in the spirit of helping others can be one of the simplest ways to spread your wings. It had a great deal to do with how I found mine.
So where do we start?
We can donate our time and money, primarily. There are other ways to give, but giving one’s time is one of the most accessible resources available to us. For those of us with the ability, finances and money can be the difference between surviving from year to year for some organizations.
I was contemplating the volunteer work I’ve done and with several charities making recent headlines for their work with the LGBTQ community, and I wanted to share a small list of some great places to start if you were looking to get involved this summer. I want to say at the outset that there are typical places people usually recommend for volunteering, like Pride Toronto or elsewhere, but I’m featuring different organizations whose work continues throughout the year. Though if you’re able to attend Pride Toronto in any capacity, I cannot recommend it enough.
Other organizations that with your resources, could make the world a more equal and safe place for all of us in the LGBTQ community…
Inspire Awards, Toronto, ON
Well into its 5th season, the Inspire Awards are a great way to get involved in the community, be it through volunteering for the organization or attending as a guest. Another great way to get involved is to nominate someone you know for an award. Each year nominees and recipients come together to celebrate the life and works of community members, which at the time of this writing, include former Toronto Mayor, Barbara Hall; Canadian Gold Medal Olympian, Mark Tewksbury, and Judy and Dennis Sheppard (parents of Matthew Sheppard), and incredible community allies. Why it matters to volunteer here: You’re able to meet others in the spirit of lifting up one another and celebrating the incredible achievements of this diverse LGBTQ community of ours.
Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, Canada-Wide Events; Ottawa-Based
Finding its origins in the organization, “Jer’s Vision”, this organization brings LGBTQ programming and workshops to schools across the country. Additionally, its cornerstone event is the Day of Pink, wherein students wear pink to support other students and to send a message about their feelings regarding bullying. It brings anti-bullying programming to schools across the country. Why volunteering here matters? If you’re a student in Ontario, you’ve got community service hours to do before you graduate, so why not spend those hours doing something to make your school and community a better place? Reach out and ask what you can do in your community or in a larger capacity. If you’re not in school and looking to help, this matters because it makes the lives of youth far easier than it ever was before, by holding the promise to greatly reduce bullying and the odds of students taking their lives because bullying became too much to handle.
Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans Youth Line, Various Locations
Youth and the trials that come along with it can be overwhelming at times, let alone the challenges that LGBTQ youth face. It’s a unique concoction of school pressures, regular coming of age experiences, and feeling as though you’re under a microscope if you’re part of the community. There’s also a great deal of opportunity for depression and anxiety to flourish. The mission of this organization is to help provide a safe shoulder for those youth to lean on and to reach out to should they need some assistance when they’re feeling overwhelmed, but feel they can’t reach out to anyone if they’re still in the closet or if it’s just not safe. In adulthood it can be easy to forget how hard it is, growing up with added pressures of social media and other mediums that can help or hurt youth today. It’s part of the reason why this is such an important way to make the world a better place. Quite simply, the youth today will be the ones making decisions tomorrow, and though things may be tough for them now, we need them to be here to make the world a better place tomorrow. The world needs their light, and this organization is a great starting point.
AIDS Committee of Toronto, Toronto, ON
Whether many want to believe it or not, there’s a great deal of stigma and isolation which surrounds HIV and AIDS. At its core is there still being a great deal of misinformation about the disease. In addition, there are few governmental supports which provide the feeling of still being welcome in spaces which are crucial to one’s well-being. Though those living with HIV face far different challenges from those in the early-90s, it’s still difficult to find housing and work when you have to disclose that you are HIV-positive Many are unaware of their rights, which the AIDS Committee aims to change by providing community events and educational programs. In addition, there are many emotional components of living with HIV that the LGBTQ community may not understand or know how to speak about, and this is where ACT comes in, providing a safe space to support its community members at every stage of their experiences with HIV.
community one foundation, Toronto, ON
This organization, active since 1980, sees the opportunity that living outside of Toronto can present and works to bring together the LGBTTIQQ2S communities in Durham, Halton, Peel and York Regions. The Greater Toronto Area brings with it gorgeous scenery and a wealth of cities and towns whose charm makes it easy to call it home. What it also brings with it too, is the isolation of being an hour or more outside of the haven that Toronto provides for the community. This organization aims to bring together programming and community groups in the name of serving those who live in these regions. Why does volunteering here matter? It’s a way to connect with organizations closer to home that will allow you to have a positive impact on where you live. Bridging ways to get involved with groups that directly impact LGBTQ matters to do with your city or town and legislation brought to your community. If it has a chance to impact your world every day, who wouldn’t want to help more with that?
We often find ourselves by helping those around us, because in these actions we find pieces of who we are reflected back. It’s an incredibly moving experience. and what better way to make the world a better place than in regards to issues and equalities that you’ll experience every day as someone belonging to the LGBTQ community.
Here’s to making the world a better place throughout our lifetimes, and leaving the world a better place than we found it in those lifetimes as well. There is no greater spiritual experience than this.
Love, Light and Miracles,
About the Author
Cheryl Costello is the founder of The Finding Hearts Project, also writes for the Brampton Focus and formerly wrote at The Loving Instant. She has also worked with Fortune 500 and Financial Post 500 companies to bring greater attention, awareness and action for LGBTQ+ issues, giving the community a powerful voice. She has conducted workshops for LGBTQ+ students on the power of reclaiming their power through owning the stories they tell and was also a Keynote speaker at a Toronto World Pride event in 2014. If she isn't writing or organizing in the community, she's out with her camera, wandering a bookstore or out hiking among trees and water. Have a question you want to see answered on the blog? Stop by her page on Instagram, join in the good vibes and send her a message: @cherylalisoncostello