As we approach the Holiday giving season, we wanted to share an update on one of our newer nonprofit partners, Indiana Youth Group (IYG), and the youth they are serving.
Since 1987, IYG has been striving to create safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people ages 12-20 years old. The center offers a multitude of specialized services such as support and discussion groups, basic needs, educational support, case management, and rapid rehousing (via Project Prism). Their support to make basic necessities and assistance with rapid rehousing is critical as "LGBTQ young people are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than non-LGBTQ youth," (True Colors United). Furthermore, according to Moe Smith, activity center coordinator at IYG, "many people don't understand how bad youth homelessness is in Indianapolis because kids know how to stay out of sight."
We interviewed Moe during our 2021 Back-to-School Giving Campaign in an effort to learn more about IYG as an organization and community. Click here for the full interview, and listen as Moe explains the details of the IYG transition closet, their favorite IYG events and programs, and the significance of Daymaker's partnership with IYG. Notably, during the interview, Moe explained that "not everybody has such a great experience with the holidays, in fact a lot of the youth express anxieties hanging out with their families [around this time]"
With this in mind, we followed up with Moe in advance of our 2021 Holiday Giving campaign. First, Moe informed us that they have given out almost all the backpacks to the youth and "they LOVE it. Multiple even come back every day wearing theirs... They didn't expect to get so much with their bags. I think the first event encouraged other youth to participate for the next time we have one."
Moe is looking forward to "working more in the center as COVID numbers go down and it becomes more and more safe to have youth in the building. I am also looking forward to the holidays! We just had our Halloween event, and it has got us excited for our Harvest Celebration and our Holiday Event which is one of the biggest ones we have." Leading up to these holiday events, IYG will guarantee that every single youth who attends receives their own holiday bag filled with free gifts. There were approximately 100-120 youth at their last holiday event. IYG's priority is ensuring that their homeless youth are staying as warm as possible.
In their interview, Moe is excited about Daymaker's personalized messages and the interest-specific focus of our gift giving. They said "I like the option with the gender, because some of them would prefer not a gendered item at all... I'm excited to give out these gifts directly to let them know there is someone out there who cares." For some youth, Moe explained, their Daymaker gifts will be the first gender-affirming items they've ever received.
As we've stated before, people, especially children, need play for intellectual and socio-emotional growth, as well as identity development and cultural awareness. Together, you, your co-workers, and our Daymaker team, were able to address this critical need that is often de-prioritized or overlooked due to the urgency of physiological needs such as food and shelter. We are grateful to be in the position to affirm IYG youth identity development through the joy of play and exploration. We honor the work of our nonprofit partners, and we thank you for your contributions and collaboration in this work!
We encourage you to learn more information about Indiana Youth Group and the communities they serve by visiting https://www.indianayouthgroup.org/