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Local organizations benefit from Gay For Good’s big first year

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Earlier this month, the Rocky Mountains chapter of Gay For Good (G4G) celebrated their first anniversary. Though only in their early stages, G4G and its volunteers achieved success in partnering with several local nonprofits to work on a variety of service projects.

G4G is a nonprofit organization with 15 chapters across the country where volunteers donate their time to selected nonprofits. G4G Rocky Mountains has held ten volunteer events in its inaugural year, including repairing a riparian dam with Carbondale-based Wilderness Workshop.

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Steve Mills, chapter leader and co-founder of the Rocky Mountains chapter of G4G, was born and raised in Los Angeles, where he got involved with the local G4G chapter. After moving to Carbondale two years ago, Mills decided to start a Rocky Mountains chapter, which services the area from Aspen to Rifle. Mills is one of five local chapter co-leaders.

Mills said sometimes organizations reach out to G4G or G4G reaches out to them. As Mills described it, “We say, ‘This is who we are, this is how we can help you.’ Any time a nonprofit hears we can deliver 15 volunteers to an event, they are like ‘thank you so much.’”

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He added, “Once we get the buy-in from an organization and they know what our goals are and what we can accomplish in working with them. Then we publish our events on Facebook, as well as we have a distribution list of people who have signed up through our website, and we push the events out to them to sign up.”

Last December, before the holidays, they partnered with Extended Table and LIFT-UP to do an event at the First United Methodist Church of Glenwood Springs to provide meals to families and people in need. Leading up to the event, they also conducted a local clothing drive.

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Mills recalled, “That was a very humbling experience as well.” He said, of many of the guests attending, “I don’t know if they have ever been interacting with people in the LGBT community. And they were very intrigued about what we do, and so we had this really positive dialogue with those families and those people in need. And they were very, very appreciative.”

Kari Yuen, the prevention specialist at Carbondale Middle School, said the school’s Genders and Sexualities Alliance (GSA) group got involved when G4G chapter co-leader Janet Gordon came in once a month to educate the students on LGBT issues and provide support to the group.

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G4G was an essential component to the success of the first-ever gay pride parade in the Roaring Fork Valley which took place in downtown Carbondale on May 3. As Yuen recalled, “G4G stood up, and they were available in many ways, and it was just was a huge success as a result of G4G participating with our GSA, alongside with our pride event, pretty much anything we needed, they were the working horse behind it.“

When asked if future GSA and G4G collaborations were in the mix, Yuen said, “Absolutely.

It is going to be vital in building a successful Pride [event].”

This year’s theme for Mountain Fair is Rainbow Connection, celebrating our LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community. As a result, G4G will have a presence in Mountain Fair’s Rainbow Lounge. It is located behind the Pavilion and will be open on Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The lounge will have rainbow nail polish, costumes, games, story hours, and watermelon. Also, it is a place to come and learn, with information from Gay For Good; AspenOUT; One Colorado; Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Roaring Fork Valley; and the Glenwood Springs office of Planned Parenthood. All fairgoers are welcome.

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Amy Kimberly, Mountain Fair director explained, “I think Mountain Fair always reflects our community and who is in our community and what’s happening in our community.” She added, “When Steve Mills moved here and really brought Gay For Good and when the kids at school did the first-ever pride parade and seeing that participation, it just really shows that this is an important part of our community.”

The partnership between Mountain Fair and G4G came about when, as Kimberly stated, “I approached Steve [Mills] and Natayln Cumings because I’ve been watching [the organization]. I mean, every month, they volunteer for a different nonprofit, and they’re really making an impact here.”

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Yuen sees potential benefits for organizations partnering with G4G, because “They are a wonderful presence to help nonprofits in a variety of ways. I think the more recognition they get, the more our Valley will actually grow as a result of it.”

During Mountain Fair, there will be a Rainbow Connection photo taken on Saturday at 5:40 p.m. Fairgoers are encouraged to wear their one favorite color to create a human “rainbow photo” which will be taken from the air by a drone.

The next G4G volunteer event will be joining with Habitat for Humanity of the Roaring Fork Valley to help provide affordable homes for teachers and other families. The event is on Saturday, Aug 17, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., near Basalt High School. To register, go to gayforgood.org/events/gay-for-good-rocky-mountains-habitat-for-humanity/.

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