The generosity of the human spirit is something I’ve come to see and appreciate on a grand scale since I’ve joined Pride Foundation’s family, and it never ceases to make me smile.
I remember thinking that the most challenging part of my role as Idaho’s regional development organizer would be fundraising. It’s not something I had ever done professionally in my previous twenty-year career as a journalist, and I’ll admit to some trepidation about how successful I might be treading into those unfamiliar waters. One thing I knew I had going, though, was that I was already familiar with and strongly believed in Pride Foundation’s mission and vision, having volunteered for several years on an Idaho scholarship committee–which to this day is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.
As it’s turned out, I’ve discovered that the new donors and volunteers I’ve helped bring into the Pride Foundation fold in the last 18 months have been motivated to do so largely by being told a story: the story of a lesbian mother of school-age children in Idaho who struggled with family relationships and religion upon coming out and has now, with the aid of a Pride Foundation scholarship, returned to college to major in Political Science. Additionally, she has become a leader in her community in the fight for equality. Another story that lets people know what we’re about is the story of a statewide student educational/support organization that with the aid of a Pride Foundation grant sent several youth to an LGBTQ leadership conference and funded a same-sex youth night dance in the Gem State.
Both of those stories are among the many I’ve shared with folks who I’ve met in my outreach efforts in Idaho. What I hadn’t expected was how personally those stories would resonate with new donors and volunteers, many of whom have also stepped up to the fundraising plate.
Doug Flanders and Carmine Caruso are the most recent example. The Boise couple–longtime Idaho LGBTQ community activists–graciously opened up their home for a Pride Foundation fundraiser in May, hosting a gathering that included moving testimonials from representatives of recent grantees Idaho Safe Schools Coalition and Allies Linked for the Prevention of HIV and AIDS (ALPHA). Carmine had volunteered on a Pride Foundation scholarship review committee and, as he told his guests, had been so inspired by the experience that he felt highly motivated to encourage others to support our work.
Stephanie Bell, a Pride Foundation Leadership Action Team member and another recent scholarship committee volunteer, organized a fundraising rock concert in Boise last fall with her husband, Bart, and they hope to do another later this year. Nampa couple Janie Burns and Lori Steele, and Sandpoint couple Thomas Bry and Joseph Palisano each hosted “Coming Out to the Farm” fundraisers last summer and have plans to do so again this year.
All are driven by the knowledge that their efforts are successfully contributing to and making a significant difference in Pride Foundation’s LGBTQ outreach work, which recently included more than $36,000 in scholarships awarded to Idaho students. There’s nothing quite as inspiring as telling a story with a happy, and fulfilling, ending.
Steve Martin is Pride Foundation’s Regional Development Organizer in Idaho. Email Steve to learn more about our grants and scholarships, or how to make a gift to Pride Foundation and LGBTQ equality.