Now I am a big believer in a community coming together. I grew up in what most of the US considers a “rural” area but we had a great sense of community there to fall back on. My parents knew that I could ride my bike all over the place as a kid with no problems because there were at least 10 pairs of eyes on me at all times. I knew I could play and be carefree as a kid and often would go over and visit those neighbors sitting out on their porch. Through GaymerX and their conventions I have found yet another amazing community to fall back on. It is through this community that I have had the great honor of meeting people from MAVEN and getting to actually lend a hand by running a robotics workshop for them.
MAVEN is a non-profit organization that works to not only make LGBTQ youth feel safe, loved, and appreciated but takes that extra step to making sure they are prepared. The organization helps teach these kids all kinds of things focused around technology. They learn to code and make games, they learn about different fields they can get into, but most importantly they are provided the support they need to actually be able to pursue a career in those fields if they wanted to. Youth, through MAVEN, are given a chance to experiment and learn skills that otherwise would not be readily available to them. Or if they were would still leave them feeling ostracized due to how they identify. Take it from someone who was the only female (not to mention lesbian) in her track at college, it’s tough feeling like you completely belong in a tech field without this kind of support.
Every year MAVEN runs a tech camp that this year I had the great pleasure of helping out with as a presenter. I can tell you that these kids are super eager to learn and ready to try anything. By no means am I great at teaching people, I’ve only been out of college myself for a few years, but these kids made the experience downright enjoyable. It is with this same inexhaustible enthusiasm that these kids are tackling their next challenge: getting to Washington for the 2015 White House LGBTQ Tech & Innovation Summit. Something I can’t wait to see happen as I believe these kids will not only provide an enlightening experience to those attending the summit this year, but because they will come back full to the bursting with ideas and drive. That more then anything is something we need to make sure that we keep in the youth of our community.
It is only the second year of the White House LGBTQ Tech & Innovation Summit but it is a big deal for us as a nation. The event brings in the most innovative and influential LGBTQ tech talent across the country to try and come up with solutions to some of America’s toughest societal challenges. To make things even better this year everyone that attends will be placed on a team to work on a project for the White House after the summit. Which is cool by any standards but we as a community can make sure that 5 of those on projects are LGBTQ youth we sent. Just to show just how much of an impact getting to send these kids would provide, of the 200 people going the 5 you can help send would be the only 5 youth there.
As I have said multiple times in this post you all are a fantastic community I have come to love dearly. You all inspire me with your tenacity, dedication, convictions, and heart. The kids over at MAVEN have done the same. Not to sound too corny but I believe these kids are the future of our community. It is through them that the pathways we have cut across through this sometimes hostile environment will not only be continued but widened. Through them we will one day get to a place where we all feel safe & wanted surround in a community of like minded people. So it is with this in mind that I encourage all of you to not only go check out the MAVEN organization and how you might volunteer, but also that you all go to their IndieGoGo campaign and send a little help their way. Please even if you aren’t in a position to donate to their cause be sure to give them a signal boost by sharing their campaign around on your social media.
With feelings of love & hope for the community