Today I posted on Facebook that I had a bit of an existential crisis this morning. Or at least in part. It’d been building up for a while now. Those who know me or who’ve followed me on social media for a couple of years know the issue of youth homelessness—especially LGBTQ youth—is near and dear to my heart. It’s why I asked my publisher, Less Than Three Press, to help me organize the Project Fierce anthology, which was a collection of stories about homeless LGBTQ youth meant to raise money for the charity, Project Fierce Chicago.
I regularly donate to Project Fierce and another Chicago-area homeless charity, The Night Ministry. They’re LGBTQ friendly and in addition to their other shelters, they even have a dedicated overnight shelter for LGBTQ youth called The Crib. I was looking at their website the other day, searching for volunteer opportunities or what their clients might need most. I wanted to do something that felt more immediate and tangible than donating cash. I printed out some of their paperwork to look it over.
Then today I started thinking about them again. I looked at the paperwork, and for a moment I felt so overwhelmed. Like, what can I do? I might be able to donate a few things, but these people need real help. In the shower I got sad. I felt useless and just…small. Inconsequential. But then I bucked up and told myself, “It doesn’t matter. Do something. You’ll feel better.”
So I went to the store and spent a couple of hundred dollars on their wish list items. I came home and put together a dozen hygiene kits containing shampoo, conditioner, soap, a wash cloth, and other toiletries. I bought some diapers, wipes, socks, and six big bags of trail mix so I could separate them into a couple dozen 1-cup bags as they requested.
I’ll be driving to The Night Ministry’s admin office to drop all this off tomorrow morning. I know some of you might be thinking, “If you wanted to donate to The Night Ministry, why didn’t you just do it quietly? Get over yourself.” And if you’re thinking it, there’s not much I can say to make you think differently, but for the record, I’m not sharing this to brag about how special and generous I am. No. I’m sharing this in the hope that someone else out there might see it be inspired to do the same. Because I realized something this morning: small things matter. Sure, I might wish I had a few million to spare so I could build some shelters and keep them stocked with essentials at all times. But just because you can’t do something huge doesn’t mean what you can contribute doesn’t have value. Sometimes the tiniest act of kindness can have a tremendous impact.
So if you have a local shelter you regularly contribute to, and you’re able, consider dropping off a box of the supplies they need most. I know how it feels to be bogged down by thoughts of “I can only afford to give so much. Will it even make a difference?” Yes, it will. To the person who has supplies to shower tomorrow because of your donation, it matters. To the person whose stomach is growling, that trail mix might not ease it much, but it helps. It’s something.
We can’t all do big things. We don’t all have the means. But small acts matter. It was a lesson I needed to learn.
Happy release day to my fellow authors in the Project Fierce Chicago Charity Anthology! This anthology was a labor of love. The subject of GLBTQ homelessness is near and dear to my heart. I’ve even addressed the topic on this blog in the past. When I heard about Project Fierce Chicago, an up and coming charity trying to raise money to purchase properties which it hoped to convert into transitional homes for some of the homeless GLBT youth in the city, I wanted to do something to help. I didn’t have the means to donate a huge amount of money myself, but I thought maybe if we put together an anthology, as I’d seen done before, we might be able to give them a sizable amount over time. The owners of Less Than Three Press generously agreed to produce the anthology and to give up their own earnings to the cause. All proceeds minus vendor fees (by Amazon, etc) will be going to Project Fierce Chicago. If you can spare just $8.99, you’ll be getting 20 stories for a total of 165K words, focused on the idea that everyone out there deserves a safe home, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Help us support this great cause! And if you’d rather donate directly to the charity, please find the link at the bottom of this post.
My sincerest thanks go out to every author who joined me in contributing to this anthology, and to LT3, one of the best GLBT publishers around. You guys have a supporter for life in me for agreeing to put this anthology together. ♥
Nobody deserves to be without a home. In collaboration with numerous authors, Less Than Three Press offers up an anthology of stories about young people who find that home and family are not always where you expect to find them.
All proceeds from this charity anthology will be donated to Project Fierce Chicago (minus vendor fees).
Project Fierce Chicago’s mission is to reduce LGBTQ youth homelessness in Chicago by providing affirming, no-cost transitional housing and comprehensive support services to homeless LGBTQ young adults. PFC also aims to encourage community-building and civic engagement through cooperative living and youth leadership development.
LT3′s Project Fierce Chicago charity anthology includes 20 short stories from Aeris, Vicktor Alexander, Talya Andor, C.J. Anthony, Blaine D. Arden, Kayla Bain-Vrba, Sophie Bonaste, Kenzie Cade, Jana Denardo,Alessandra Ebulu, Dianne Hartsock, Leta Hutchins, Caitlin Ricci, Lor Rose, B. Snow, Rin Sparrow, Andrea Speed, Piper Vaughn, Layla M. Wier, and Xara X. Xanakas.
Want to donate directly? Visit the Project Fierce Chicago website.