Foundation reaches LGBT donation goal

Funds will be used to help with challenges faced by youth.

October 10, 2014
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Grand Rapids’ lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents have found a supportive and generous friend in the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

The foundation recently announced its Our LGBT Fund reached $270,000 in community donations, with about 162 individuals, couples and organizations in West Michigan donating enough to help the fund surpass its original goal.

The fund, which was created in August by West Michigan couple Shelley Padnos and Carol Sarosik with a matching gift of $100,000, was developed to create a welcome and healthy environment in West Michigan for members of the LGBT community, with the initial focus on challenges faced by LGBT youth.

“We’re anxious to see how we can change things here in West Michigan when it comes to how young LGBT people are regarded,” Sarosik said. “We know there are organizations that want to help and now there will be resources to help.”

Homelessness is a serious issue for all youth but especially in the LGBT community. A report published in July 2012 by the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, found that LGBT youth, who make up only about 10 percent of the nation’s youth, represent approximately 40 percent of homeless youth.

Additionally, LGBT homeless youth are twice as likely to commit suicide as heterosexual homeless youth, and 7.4 times more likely to experience sexual violence, according to a release from the GRCF.

“The Community Foundation is supportive of Our LGBT Fund because of our focus on diversity and inclusion,” said Diana Sieger, the foundation’s president.

“We also have a history of work in housing and ending homelessness, and we value bringing equity to underserved populations including youth. The fund fits well with the work we already do.”

Information about the fund is available at the website

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