Side by Side (formerly ROSMY) January 2017 Newsletter

Welcome to your monthly Side by Side newsletter!
Side by Side & The Virginia Anti-Violence Project Launch Monthly Group for LGBTQ+ Youth of Color

When Side by Side was started over 25 years ago as ROSMY, it was done so with the recognition that LGBTQ+ youth needed the space to process, connect, find role models, and build community with other people who identified as LGBTQ+. Similarly, when the Transgender Support Group was started in 2011, it was done with the recognition that the trans-identified youth participating in our programs needed an additional space that was for people who identified as transgender or gender non-conforming. It is in the lifeblood of the organization to listen to the youth we serve, and to respond to the needs they present.

It was in this same spirit that, in September 2016, Side by Side launched our Diversity Task Force, a board-led committee focused on ensuring Side by Side reflects our racially and ethnically diverse community here in Richmond. Staff and volunteers conducted focus groups with LGBTQ+ youth of color asking about their experiences with Side by Side and what they needed from us. Through those discussions it became clear that there is a need for LGBTQ+ youth of color to have a space where they could connect on not only their shared sexual and/or gender identity, but also their shared racial and/or ethnic identity.

In response to the needs expressed by the youth, this month we are starting a new monthly support group for LGBTQ+ Youth of Color ages 14-20 in partnership with the Virginia Anti-Violence Project (VAVP). VAVP has been a strong partner of ours for years; assisting in developing new curriculum focused on healthy relationships, facilitating youth groups, and providing advocacy and support to our youth. In addition to our new youth group, Side by Side and VAVP will work to infuse more intersectionality and cultural competency around race and ethnicity into our facilitator training and our youth curriculum.  

Side by Side continues to be a lifeline for LGBTQ+ youth in our community, and we want to ensure all LGBTQ+ youth feel affirmed, comfortable, and welcomed at our youth groups and programming.

Thank you for your continued support, 


Ted Lewis, Executive Director

Ely Bowles at TEDxYouth RVA
Side by Side Youth Leader Share His Story

This past November, Side by Side Youth, Ely Bowles, served as a featured speaker for TEDxYouth RVA. His talk, "Gender: Extraordinary" focuses on his coming out process as a transgender man and the power of sharing your story. We are so proud of Ely and grateful for his bravery in sharing his story with his community.

"There is something incredibly liberating about being able to be your full authentic self."

Donated Meal at Side by Side
Side by Side Meals Program
If you're looking for a way to get involved with Side by Side, but don't have the time to get involved on a regular basis, consider providing a meal for one of our weekly groups. Side by Side's Meals Program  is a way to ensure youth will have access to a healthy meal every time they attend one of our Richmond groups.  

In the fall of 2014,
Restoration Fellowship , a local congregation, reached out to ask if we might be interested in having a meal donated once a month for our youth group. Given that our groups meet during typical dinner hours, and that the chips and drinks we offered for snacks were far short of a meal, the offer seemed like a good fit. What began with one congregation donating one meal a month has since grown to meals being supplied for every Richmond group, donated by other local congregations as well as volunteers. Not only do youth have a meal when they attend group, but extra food is packaged up and sent home with youth who need it.
There is a certain kind of community built when people share a meal - conflicts seem less charged; anxieties are eased; laughter is more readily available. In many ways, the meals program is an extension of the atmosphere we hope to foster in all our groups - meals donated to Side by Side show our youth that there are people in the community who love, value, and support them, and who want to ensure that they will leave group with not only a nourished heart, but also a full belly.

If you're into cooking, or are part of a group who would like to connect to the mission of Side by Side in a very tangible way, consider providing a meal for one of our groups. It involves bringing food for about 20 people and dropping it off at the youth center between 5:00 - 6:00 on a designated evening. You can bring a meal one time, or contribute a meal to one group on a monthly basis. 
To sign up, visit our SignUp Genius Page. If you would like to bring a meal on a repeating basis, or if you have any questions, contact  Jess Cook , Youth Programs Director, for more information. 
Side by Side MLK Day of Service

In celebration of the work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Side by Side participated in the MLK Day of Service, making the holiday a "day-on, not a day-off." We welcomed volunteers from the University of Richmond, as well as some of our youth and facilitators. They assisted in painting our youth space, helping to organizing our new youth needs area, and cleaning our library. We are grateful for the continued support of our community and our amazing volunteers.

Volunteers for MLK Day of Service 2017

Side by Side (formerly ROSMY) | 804-644-4800 | Email | New Website

United Way - #3403 | Combined Federal Campaign - #70936 | Local Gov. & Schools - #162

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