My “Giving Tuesday” Plans

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This year, I’ve been thinking about Giving Tuesday more than usual. I try to give whenever I can, whenever it’s needed, but I also like the idea of a concerted effort to encourage others to give charitably, especially in this season of receiving gifts, many of which we don’t truly need.

There are many, many causes I’d love to financially support, and I encourage everyone to donate some time or money throughout the year, if you’re able. That said, here’s who I’ll be helping on Giving Tuesday:

LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS

St. John’s Cathedral

I’m not technically a member of St. John’s Cathedral (or the Episcopal Church, for that matter), but its clergy, particularly Dean Kate Moorehead and Rev. David Erickson, are wonderful and have really helped me. They are also advocates for the marginalized in our community. St. John’s Cathedral’s outreach efforts include Volunteers in Medicine and the Clara White Mission.

Earlier this year, St. John’s Cathedral invited neighboring churches, businesses and nonprofits to discuss the future of its Downtown neighborhood “and how to return it to a thriving community.” The goal: “…sharing God’s love through urban revitalization,” not by “displacing the poor and the non-profits ministering to them,” but by “moving working class people, businesses, and students into the district, beautifying the area and slowing the traffic so that a true village is born.”

Sounds good to me.

An estimated 3,000 people are homeless in Jacksonville. The Sulzbacher Center is the area’s largest provider of comprehensive services for the homeless. Beyond food, shelter and healthcare, it also helps people find jobs, and offers children’s programs and life skills programs.

JASMYN

JASMYN has directly helped more than 20,000 local LGBTQ youth since it began in the early 90s, myself included. I’m particularly fond of JASMYN because of its focus on helping young people, especially in this community, where love and support for LGBTQ folks aren’t always felt.

JASMYN has a lot of programming and educational opportunities. There’s a support group, resources for people who want to start a gay straight alliance at their school, education on safe sex, and “drop-in” nights where young people can connect and just hang out in a safe, supportive environment. JASMYN also provides free HIV testing.

Jacksonville Coalition for Equality

Jacksonville is the largest American city without human rights protections for the LGBTQ community. The Jacksonville Coalition for Equality is all about getting our city’s existing Human Rights Ordinance updated to include protections for sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in employment, housing and public accommodations.

More than 600 local businesses and more than 150 faith leaders publicly support this change, yet the city’s mayor and some members of the City Council apparently still need to be convinced. That’s what JCE and the people behind it are trying to do.

Jacksonville Humane Society

While I didn’t find any of my pups through the Jacksonville Humane Society, both dogs I’ve had as an adult have used the JHS animal hospital. Lily hates the vet. In fact, “hates” might be an understatement. But the staff has always been patient and understanding, which I appreciate.

JHS cares for thousands of animals each year. It provides food, shelter, medical care, and of course the opportunity for people to adopt.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS & CAUSES

The Reformation Project

Gay Christian Matthew Vines is a great resource for LGBTQ Christians, particularly evangelicals. Vines created The Reformation Project, which works to promote the inclusion of LGBTQ people by reforming church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity. The goal is to see a global church that fully affirms our community. What I really love is that Vines and The Reformation Project don’t avoid the so-called “clobber verses” — they address them directly and do a great job of it.

The Reformation Project has regional training conferences and an annual “leadership development cohort,” an intensive program to train LGBTQ Christians to be leaders in their own local faith communities. They are also planning to create local Reformation Project chapters at some point. Awesome stuff. Also, if you’re interested, be sure to check out Matt Vines’ book, “God and the Gay Christian.”

The Trevor Project

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 24. And the rate of suicide attempts is four times greater for lesbian, gay and bisexual youth and two times greater for questioning youth, compared to straight youth.

The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people. It also operates the only national 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention lifeline for LGBTQ young people and offers help through instant messaging and text messaging.

ACLU

Some of my friends might see this as a controversial choice, but I’m reminded of a quote I recently heard. I can’t recall it directly, but it was basically that some people don’t like the ACLU until they need it. The group has been around for almost a century, and has more than a half-million members, nearly 200 staff attorneys, thousands of volunteer attorneys and offices throughout the nation.

I’m a fan of equality, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to due process, etc., so I’m a fan of the ACLU.

Doctors Without Borders

Just like the ACLU, you’ve probably heard about Doctors Without Borders. In case you don’t know, though, these docs deliver emergency medical aid to people affected by conflict, epidemics and disasters.

For me, right now, this is all about Syria. There are certainly other ways to help with this issue, but there are now no open hospitals in Aleppo. None. Most, if not all, have serious damage from bombs and other fighting. The World Health Organization estimates that more than a quarter-million people are now without hospital care. Doctors Without Borders goes wherever there is need, including incredibly dangerous places like Syria.

Mni Wiconi Health Clinic Partnership at Standing Rock 

If you’re not familiar with the situation at Standing Rock, here’s a good summary. Like Syria, there are various ways to support the folks at Standing Rock and there are many websites that have aggregated some of the options, so if you’re interested, be sure to look into it.

The Mni Wiconi (Water is Life) Health Clinic is a free clinic proposed as a partnership with Standing Rock Sioux Tribe traditional healers, UCSF and others to provide free care to all people in the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, including supporters who have gathered as “water protectors.”

This effort has already met its financial goal, so now all donations will be used to directly support immediate health needs at the Standing Rock protest camp.

***

There are many great causes and organizations to support. If you’re able, I encourage you to find opportunities that work for you, whether in your own community or national/international causes. If you’re worried about how much of your money will actually support the programs you want to support, sites like Charity Navigator can help.

I hope Giving Tuesday is just the beginning. So many places could use volunteers and financial contributions throughout the year. I plan to work harder to be more involved, and I hope you will, too.

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