When Meredith asked me if I wanted to be part of her Give a Little, Thank a Lot series to promote visibility to a charity and thank people for their contributions to their charities of choice, she barely got the question out before I answered yes.
My charity is Lost n Found Youth in Atlanta, GA.
Statistically, 46% of homeless LGBT youth report having run away from or getting thrown out of their home due to rejection of their orientation and 17% become homeless when aging out of the foster care system. 1 in 3 of these teens will, within 48 hours of ending up on the streets, be required to commit a crime to survive. This may be stealing food from a store or gas station, running drugs, or succumbing to sexual exploitation to make money for themselves or someone who will claim to take care of them. The Center for American Progress reported that young gay men are more likely to be forced into prostitution than any other homeless youth population.
Lost-n-Found Youth is an Atlanta-based nonprofit corporation whose mission is to take homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths to age 26 off the street and transition them into more permanent housing.
Founded by Rick Westbrook, Art Izzard, and Paul Swicord after each of them experienced being turned away when attempting to place queer youth into local shelters and youth aid programs, the three resolved that something needed to be done to address the immediate need.
You might have seen the video of young Daniel Pierce, which went viral in August, depicting an “intervention” of sorts, when his family, to whom Daniel had come out, tried to make him choose to be straight to remain in line with their religious beliefs so as to continue living with them while he attended college. The video didn’t show much, but the audio was unmistakable as his family told him he had to leave their home, his step-mother refused to allow him to reside with her, and his mother or grandmother (it’s unclear which) assaulted him while in the background, his father called him a disgrace. Daniel got out, and his boyfriend set up a GoFundMe page, which quickly amassed almost $100,000 in donations, allowing Daniel to control his future despite being disowned. But Daniel is the exception, not the rule.
This horrendous behavior plays out in homes all over the country, and while the climate of acceptance of LGBT people is changing, these kids need immediate assistance and most shelters don’t offer protections specific to LGBT needs. Lost n Found is an organization in its early stages, building up enough momentum to be able to take on the problem of LGBT homelessness head on, and with that increase in momentum, they need help. Donations can be made on their website, and each year around the holidays, they set up a Wish List of items which can help them care for those in need, from the basics like socks and underwear and feminine hygiene products to temporary shelter.
They have 24/7 phone, text, and email response services, emergency and transitional housing, emergency clothing and food for youth on the street, mental health evaluations and counseling, referrals to HIV testing, health, and dental services, assistance for lost, stolen, or inaccessible birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and/or state ID cards, referrals to GED testing and training and other education resources, and resume writing/editing and interview skills.
Along with those services, they also run a thrift store which takes clothing donations and other items in good (or new) condition, which helps support their street outreach, transitional housing, and youth center programs. Lost n Found, through a long term lease agreement with Saint Mark’s United Methodist Church, acquired a house they are in the process of turning into a home to triple their shelter capacity, and are hoping to open the doors in the first half of 2015.
They are on the ground, in the trenches with the kids who need the most help, and they are doing something about it, but they can’t do it alone. They need our help, which is why, when I released my most recent book, Consent (Power Exchange 3), I vowed to donate a portion of earnings from the first two months of sales to Lost n Found Youth.
As of Thanksgiving, the total for donation was at just under $1,300. I have decided to extend the window of sales through the first ten days of December, for the duration of my giveaway here on Diverse Reader. If you’re so inclined, consider making a donation of your own to a good cause, especially with temperatures getting colder (and Atlanta is expected to have a colder than normal winter). Or you can help by purchasing the book and adding to the incredible total on the check I get to write in December. LnF also sets up a wish list, which should be coming out soon, if you’re inclined to purchase for them items for specific use. Everything helps, no matter how big or small.
I know we are all inundated with donation requests around the holidays, from the bell ringers at every store entrance to the pleas for other organizations who are just as valid in their needs to help their target population. Lost n Found gets my focus for the work they do for the younger generation of LGBT kids. Because no one should be abandoned or disowned for who they love or how they were born.
And last but not least, I’d like to thank my wonderful readers, who have spread the word about the book, purchased it themselves, and in general have been the entire reason I’m even able to make such a large donation in the first place. I love you all. As a thank you from me, I’m offering a signed paperback copy of Power Exchange, book one of the series, to one winner who follows the entry instructions. Because many of my readers are overseas, I’m not limiting the giveaway to the US only. Good luck and happy holidays!
This post will run from December 4th until December 11th. Winner will be notified via email. *Remember to check your spam*
Good luck and thank you for your kindness!
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Lost-N-Found is amazing. And a perfect organization for us in this genre to support.ReplyDelete
I totally agree!Delete
New charity to me! Thank you for all that you do!ReplyDelete
Great to bring to your attention than! :DDelete
Such a great cause! Thank you for all that you are doing for them :)ReplyDelete
It really is! Thank you for stopping byDelete
I've both bought your book and chosen Lost N Found as my charity for the month in Amazon Smile. It breaks my heart that such a charity is so needed.ReplyDelete
Great post, wonderful charity and excellent initiative. I'm very impressed with the amount you raised for Lost N Found, AJ and I'm delighted both for the charity and for you. It takes quite a few book sales to get that far. Then again, the book is magnificent so I'm impressed but not surprised. :)ReplyDelete
I've picked Lost N Found as my Amazon Smile charity and help a little bit that way.
I also have changed my charity to Lost N Found through my amazon smile account. As a mom to 3 kids I can't imagine how a parent could decide that they no longer love them because of who they love.ReplyDelete
This has been my Amazon Smile charity for the past year. A wonderful organization.ReplyDelete
Wonderful post. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I will definitely go and get your latest book now to help add to your donation. I recently found out about Amazon Smile and I will be adding this organization to the list that I am going to rotate through for next year and beyond.ReplyDelete
As I am not US based I am afraid I have not heard of this charity before and have not heard about the Amazon Smile charity thing either, but that might be US based again :( but I will check it out and see if I can help that way? It looks an awesome charity and good template for others to follow :)ReplyDelete
Thank you for a chance to win this book and seasonal greetings to you all :)
You all rock! <3ReplyDelete
Own all of AJ's books & will check out Amazon Smile & list Lost N Found as my charity of choice. Thank you for caring & sharing with & for our teens. So many people run the other way when you say teen. Wish you all were around when I was actively counseling ... sure needed you! But so glad you're all here now! Thank you!ReplyDelete
Such a great cause.<3. Thank you AJ for creating such great stories and all that you do here for Lost and Found.ReplyDelete
I've been supporting Lost-n-Found since J.P. Barnaby had a post about them last year and I've also made them my Amazon Smile charity. I live in Europe so I don't buy an awful lot from Amazon.com but every little bit helps.ReplyDelete
I can't for the life of me understand the people who kick out their kids because of their sexual orientation. Great initiative to donate part of the proceeds of your book!