lpAmong the most vulnerable members of our society are LGBTQ teens and young adults, particularly those who have no place to call home. Launch Pad is a savior for these kids: The program, operated by members of the LGBT and allied community, calls itself a “street free sleep” initiative.  More simply stated, it offers sleeping shelters for homeless 18- to 24-year-olds in the Nashville area, places that are welcoming and affirming to those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, heterosexual, or questioning. The group’s mission is to  create a network of these temporary safer sleeping shelters. To do this, Launch Pad needs responsible, caring, diversity-appreciating adults willing to volunteer and help. To that end, the group plans a volunteer training session to be held Monday night.

Imagine the good you can do donating your time to Launch Pad. The commitment is not a huge one, only about two hours for the training. You’ll also learn about the many ways in which you can assist the organization in its sadly necessary work — you can donate funds, do laundry, offer a job… Nashville Scene recently shared a terrific piece addressing the tragic reality for too many LGBTQ youth.

While many have supportive parents and guardians to help them through a universally difficult stage of development, a significant number face strife with their families and find themselves homeless. In Middle Tennessee, 35 to 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT — on par with the national average — and they have a hard road ahead.

With the recent closing of Nashville’s Oasis Program, Launch Pad is among the only life preservers out there for this population. You can be one of those who stands up to affirm and assist these deserving young people. The training session will be Monday, Aug. 17, at 7 p.m. at St. Augustine’s Chapel, 200 24th. Ave. S., on the campus of Vanderbilt University. For more information about the workshop and about all the ways in which you can help, check out the the Launch Pad Facebook page.

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