In a massive state with such a small population, the reality of Pride Foundation’s work in Alaska is unique from other places in our region.
First, the sheer size of the state means that there are more rural and remote communities than anywhere else in the country. On top of this, there are few, if any, LGBTQ-specific organizations in the state that have paid staff.
Despite these challenges, one thing remains true about our work in Alaska—real solutions for our community are at our fingertips, and often just a phone call or lunch away.
Inspired by this idea, and the work of our past and present grantees, Pride Foundation convened an afternoon roundtable for LGBTQ and allied organizations. This included new grantees, such as Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic, as well as long-standing community partners like Four A’s, Identity, and PFLAG Fairbanks.
The concept of a “roundtable” can be fuzzy to understand since the term is used frequently and with many different meanings. In our case, it was held to ensure that organizations working to advance LGBTQ equality could share information with one another, as well as identify and leverage opportunities for connection and collaboration with the mainstream organizations with which we are already connected.
As attendees tried to figure out which sandwich belonged to them, others shared updates on their work for the year, challenges they were working to overcome, and opportunities they were excited about for 2018.
Most in the room were not surprised by the recurring themes: increasing demand for services, a challenging political environment, and a scarcity of government resources. What we shared in our surprise, though, was that rather than feeling despair about the overwhelming complexity of our challenges, we were all motivated and encouraged by the opportunity to do something for the constituents we serve.
I walked away that day with genuine hope that we could leverage our network of grantees and partners to build a more welcoming and affirming Alaska for the LGBTQ community—and increase the support opportunities available like this round table to do so.
I felt most motivated by a quick comment shared by one of our newest grantees who shared my hope: “this was exactly the kind of technical support I hoped would come with this grant award!” Dreams achieved!
The best part about Alaska? Despite its size, the best expert to help you solve a problem is only a phone call away—or even eating lunch right next to you.
Josh Hemsath is Pride Foundation’s Regional Philanthropy Officer in Alaska. Email Josh.