Today we’d like to introduce you to Sharon Herrera.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Sharon. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
September 2010, LGBTQ youth suicides back to back in our nation triggered the memory of my suicide attempt at the age of 16. As an employee of FWISD, working closely with youth, I knew I had to do something to help save lives. November 2010, gathered several friends to discuss my concerns and the need to have a safe place for LGBTQ youth, born was LGBTQ S.A.V.E.S. (STUDENT, ALLIES, VOLUNTEERS, EDUCATORS SUPPORT). Along with a handful of friends, we brainstormed what event to have first, we came up with a Winter Prom. 27 LGBTQ youths attended at Celebration Community Church, hosted by Rev. Carol West. Those early years involved a lot of work, fear of the unknown, and money out of our pockets, Fast-forward; May 2016, we became an official non-profit. Churches, artists, and entertainers have all held fundraising events in our honor. We began with one youth group meeting a month, now, we have three a month, offer scholarships, resources, quarterly dinners open to the public to learn more about us and we get families and youth many surrounding cities, including Keller, Mansfield, Crowley, Weatherford, it’s not just Fort Worth anymore. We also have an annual Youth Pride event. Our vision: A community where ALL youth are safe. Our mission: LGBTQ S.A.V.E.S. fosters the well-being of LGBTQ youth and allies. Provides safe spaces for social and personal development; promotes supportive learning environments and offers resources to youth and their families.
We have youth that began their journey at 14 and is now 18-22 paying it forward as our Youth Leaders. 90% of our youth have attempted and or contemplated suicide. Our goal is to have a drop in center and shelter for our homeless youth. We want to build a support system for LGBTQ youth and allies that provides housing, education, leadership development, professional networking, mentoring, life skills training, health/wellness and more!
I am also a consultant and one of the training I provide is LGBTQ 101 -Increase awareness of the issues experienced on a personal, community and institutional level by Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people.-Define common terms used about and within the LGBTQ community. Brief highlights/ history of the LGBT community. A deeper understanding of personal ideas, stereotypes, and assumptions related to LGBT people. Increase awareness of resources that support LGBTQ youth. Save lives!
I am doing all that I can to help better serve and save lives. https://www.linkedin.com/in/sharon-herrera-share
Has it been a smooth road?
Some of past roadblocks included finding venues to host events, reaching LGBTQ students, and sustaining LGBTQ-friendly programs in a conservative community. Also, financially, most of the funding was out of my pocket and the pockets of friends, family and their family and friends. Once word got out, we saw an amazing outpouring of commitment to LGBTQ youths, churches, artists, local businesses and theaters, other non-profit organizations and entertainers began to have fundraising events in our honor and still do today! Reaching LGBTQ students is tough through school districts/campuses, so we rely on social media, word of mouth and vendor events. Several churches have opened their doors in the beginning and now we currently house all of our events at First Jefferson Church. We pay a small monthly rent, hold our monthly board meetings and all youth group meetings and social events in one location. This is what our youth wanted so we made it happen. No decision is made without youth voice.
We’d love to hear more about your work.
Please listen to the video clip and read comments below this page: https://www.lgbtqsaves.org/voices
We are saving lives!
We started this journey in 2010, we have survived because we are making an positive impact on youth.
I have often been asked what is success? My answer is to watch the videos on our website, read the comments and come and visit one of our youth meetings, hear the voices of our youth. I am often told I give people HOPE, I reply, the youth give ME HOPE, HOPE that the world will become a better place.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
We need LGBTQ S.A.V.E.S. in our city to better serve our youth. This type of organization is needed in every corner of the world.
My email signature ends with: What are you doing to make this world a better place?
- Address:1959 Sandy Lane
Fort Worth, TX 76112
- Website: https://www.lgbtqsaves.org/
- Facebook:LGBTQ SAVES
- Other:LGBTQ S.A.V.E.S.