A Message of Gratitude to Spirit of the Cross Church in Huntsville, Alabama

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Spirit of the Cross Church

Dear Friends,

Four years ago I began a very important conversation.  This conversation was and continues to be about the well-being and future of our community.  This conversation was begun at Spirit of the Cross because as a member I found a safe haven as I healed from years of self-abuse.  When I began to develop my personal ministry I reached out to the congregation to join me as I worked to heal wounded spirits, return hope to the lonely, and to build a sense of community in a city where I was told this would not be possible because others had tried before me.   When I announced publicly that I had been an addict some people simply waited for me to return to that life of self-abuse.  Now, four years later, I wish to publicly acknowledge that the leadership of Spirit of the Cross has been a steadfast partner in my work.  Pastor Richard and the Board of Directors have been with me every step of this amazing journey and always provided more than I asked.  For a year the agency used the church building 7 nights a month for a variety of support groups and for 2 more years we used the building 5 nights each month.  Additionally, we have been given space to hold many events both to raise support for our work and to raise awareness of important issues affecting our community.  Without the support of Spirit of the Cross GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services would simply not be where it is today.  Our community owes the congregation at Spirit of the Cross a debt which we will never be able to repay because during these early years when I often felt alone in my work I always knew I could come to the church leadership and receive their support and encouragement.  Many of my fellow church members have witnessed my tears of joy and frustration during these four years.  This sharing is part of what makes us a family and you will always be my family.

It is with a humbling sense of pride in our community that I now share with you a brief summary of some of what you have made possible.  The recognitions I have received and those of the agency cannot be seen as separate because without this great organization as a platform my personal voice would not have been respected or acknowledged.

With your help we have:

Ÿ* Reached hundreds of youth and adults with support groups where they have been safe to seek help and express their needs

*Ÿ Provided community events where participation ranged from 5 people at one candlelight vigil to an estimated attendance of 2,500 at Rocket City Pride 2013

*Ÿ Reached millions with positive awareness of the GLBTQ community in Huntsville and Alabama through over 60 television interviews, radio programs, newspaper stories, magazine articles, through online publications and programs including LGBTQ Nation, The New Civil Right’s Movement, PBS’s Need To Know and HuffPost Live, through my recognition as one of five people transforming five communities as part of the Encore Careers movement, and as the recipient of the Billy Jack Gaither Humanitarian Award

*Ÿ Trained future social workers from four major universities including Oakwood University, the University of  Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama A&M University, and the University of Southern  California

*Ÿ Educated hundreds of students through public speaking at local universities

*Ÿ Participated in the Huntsville Area Inclusive Communities Initiative, the Interfaith Mission Service, the Youth Services Council, the Alabama Association of Non-profits, Centerlink the Community of LGBT Centers, the Alabama Rural Coalition for the Homeless, the North Alabama Coalition for the Homeless, and the FBI’s Citizen’s Academy

*Ÿ  Re-established Rocket City Pride as a community wide celebration of diversity and inclusion and as an event which we can be proud to attend and support

*Ÿ Opened the only Community and Resource Center for the GLBTQ community in Alabama

With your support I have been recognized as an advocate for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community and as a Civil Rights/Human Rights activist seeking social justice for any group not being given the respect they deserve in our society.  Leaders in our community and across the region show respect for me personally because I have remained true to the vision and mission of GLBTAYS which your support made possible.

I look forward to many more years together as we work to create a safe and healthy community for everyone!  It’s all about community.   Together we are doing great things in Alabama and beyond!

With love & appreciation,

James Robinson, founder & Executive Director

james@glbtays.org

www.glbtays.org

GLBTAYS on facebook

Our Space Community Center on facebook

GayinAlabama on facebook

*** Spirit of the Cross Church is located at 3015 Sparkman Drive in Huntsville, Alabama.  http://www.spiritofthecross.org/

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Lessons learned as a “Community Leader” – With Recognition Comes Responsibility … I promise to …

– James Robinson, founder and executive director at GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services, Inc.

Because of my work as a community advocate & social justice activist I continue to be given amazing opportunities.  More and more often I am being recognized as a “Community Leader” and GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services is being recognized as a leading organization in our community because we are making a difference despite the ever present lack of funding.

Tonight I attended the “Truth Hearing” presented by North Alabama Healthcare for All.  Dr. Pippa Abston and others organized this event to raise awareness of conditions facing our community regarding access to healthcare.  Individuals shared their stories, which more often than not were stories of struggles accessing healthcare or affording healthcare.

When I arrived I was given a seat on the stage as a person serving as a “Community Leader” because of the work I do through GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services.  On the stage with me were Alabama State Representative Laura Hall, Kenny Anderson representing the Mayor’s office of the  City of Huntsville, Sara Crocker from the City of Huntsville’s Human Relations Commission, and others.   We served as a “Listening Panel”.  I was both honored and humbled as local community members shared their struggles with us.  They looked to us as a group of people who are either in positions to create positive change or as people who know people who can create positive change.

As I listened to these incredible stories my heart was touched over and over by the strength and courage that I witnessed.  Some people found it difficult to finish their stories because they were interrupted by their own tears as they talked about their struggles or the struggles of loved ones.  As I listened I realized what an honor it was to be sitting on this stage and for these people to look to us with hope.  Hope that we and the people in the audience might possibly leave the event with a better understanding of the limited healthcare that is currently available, unfairly unavailable, or of such poor quality that their struggles continue.   Some of these people go without food in order to get their medications.

I left with a new awareness that people are looking to me for more than I ever imagined.  I am a very small fish in a large pond so to speak but I have a voice, I know many people, I have earned the respect of a community, and people listen to me.  People also look to me for help.  I promise to continue doing all I can to use GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services to serve our entire community.  I promise to use our offices at Our Space Community Center to provide support, resources, referrals, and space for support groups and community events.   I promise to use my voice and whatever influence I have been given to create positive changes in our community.

Please read more and join us on this Amazing Journey!   It’s all about community!  Together we are doing great things!

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