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Places of help & hope: Shining a light on National LGBTQ+ Center Awareness Day

On Tuesday, October 19, 2021, a national movement is underway aimed at highlighting the services provided by LGBTQ+ centers across the nation.

SCRANTON, Pa. — From recreational activities to support groups, these are just some of the services LBGTQ+ Centers across the country and here at home offer to people of all ages who may be struggling with their sexuality.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021, is National LGBTQ+ Center Awareness Day. The national campaign aims to shine a light on these types of centers and highlight their impact in our communities.

One nonprofit includes the NEPA Youth Shelter along Wyoming Avenue in Scranton.

Newswatch 16’s Ryan Leckey visited the organization on Tuesday. He was also joined by members of the “NEPA Rainbow Alliance” as well as PA 211. While those two don’t have a physical location for the public like the NEPA Youth Shelter, they still play a vital role in our area by providing resources and help to members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Specifically for the NEPA Youth Shelter, its mission is “to provide quality emergency shelter and related services to unaccompanied youth ages 14 through high school graduation from all counties in NEPA. The shelter will provide essentials such as food, clothing, and bathrooms, as well as services such as educational support, counseling, family reunification, and/or preparation for independent living.”

The shelter in this part of Lackawanna County also has a big focus on being a safe space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) youth. Shelter workers in Scranton say the LGBTQ+ population constitutes a high percentage of homeless youth in our area. Youth homelessness is often seen by many as an invisible issue.

Whether it’s in Scranton or other LGBTQ+ community centers across the country, all have a goal to bring people together in a supportive environment. Most also serve as a point of education.

LGBTQ+ youth homelessness by the numbers

According to the nonprofit, the True Colors Fund which is focused on ending homelessness in the LGBT community, “1.6 million youth are homeless each year, and up to 40 percent of them identify as LGBT.” Read more of their research at this link.

How to observe LGBTQ+ Center Awareness Day

While some centers across the country may hold community events, other ways of getting involved could be donating financially or your time at a facility near you. Head to this link to see where to turn to help and how you can volunteer.

Facts about 2-1-1:

  • Been around for 47+ years
  • Available 24 hours a day – 7 days a week
  • Free and confidential
  • Serves 17 counties across NEPA
  • Simply dial 2-1-1 or text your zip code to TXT211
  • Trained community referral specialists are there around the clock
  • Calls vary from disaster relief, mental health, homeless services, child abuse/neglect, energy assistance, runaways, holiday assistance, victim services, and substance abuse.
  • 96,408 calls were handled last fiscal year

The top needed categories included: Housing Related Coordinated Entry, Rent Payment Assistance, and Comprehensive Information and Referral.

Learn more at FSANEPA.org or NEPA211.org.

In total, Family Service Association of NEPA (FSA NEPA) has 13 different programs. They work with individuals of all ages (toddlers up to senior citizens).

To learn more about this national day, head here!

RELATED: NEPA Youth Shelter: Taking Care of Teens

Additional Resources:

Organization Name: Xceed Center
Location: 57-59 N Main Street, Second Floor, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702
Website: https://wvacinc.org/xceed-center/
About: "Xceed Center is an early intervention program providing a safe environment for the LGBTQI+ youth community to enrich and address the challenges of Living, Growing Better, Together, eQually. Xceed Center is a no-appointment-necessary drop-in center, located in downtown Wilkes-Barre, just off Public Square. We provide unique programming for LGBTQI+ youth, ages 15-24, who might be at risk for STI’s, homelessness, vulnerable behaviors, substance abuse, and other daily challenges."