LGBTQ youth in greater Kansas City have had access to a safe space, with relevant health and education information, for more than 23 years now, thanks to continued community support of Passages Youth Center.
Two grant awards announced in September will help Passages deliver its mission over the next eight to 10 months. A $2,950 grant came from the National GLBTQ Youth Foundation, and a $4,000 grant came from the AIDS Service Foundation of Kansas City’s Community Grant program.
For the last two years, the Passages board has been working on several strategic initiatives, including reinvigorating community awareness of the group, updating its mission and vision statement, providing financial transparency to the community, building toward long-term financial stability with a mix of grants and recurring private donor support, and continued focus on delivering resources to metro LGBT youth.
The center welcomes youth ages 14 to 20. It has operated from the basement of Trinity United Methodist Church on East Armour Boulevard for a number of years.
Passages is open Wednesdays from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Outside groups and facilitators serve dinner, which is often donated by community partners such as Grinders Pizza. Over dinner, youth and facilitators informally introduce themselves and share their “high” and “low” moments of the week. Most weeks, outside guests from the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project, KC CARE Clinic, the Good Samaritan Project, or Synergy Services provide after-dinner discussion on topics like Internet safety, what healthy relationships look like, and LGBT-focused health information.
Youth also have access to a computer lab with monitored Internet and wi-fi access, as well as periodicals and a variety of books. Facilitators, who are screened and undergo background checks, provide a good mix of professional and personal insights as mentors.
Each spring, Trinity United Methodist Church plans and hosts a prom for Passages. Prom 2013, the 9th annual event, welcomed dozens of metro youth into an inclusive environment for a great meal prepared by the church and access to Passages resources.
To stay connected with Passages, sign up for the monthly newsletter at www.kcpassages.org or like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kcpassages. If you are between 14 and 20, visit Passages on an upcoming Wednesday. Join us for dinner. Bring your friends, make new ones, and connect with our unique resources.
Those interested in helping Passages continue its legacy and grow can make a contribution to the 501(c)3 nonprofit public charity. (Donations can be made directly via our website, www.kcpassages.org.)
Jason Webb is the board chairman for Passages and senior manager at Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company.