At Just Us we believe that every young person deserves a liberating space where their sexual orientation and/ or gender identity are not only affirmed but celebrated. Every week throughout the academic year, through the community we create, young people who identify on the LGBT spectrum are able to engage with other young people like themselves and feel free. So often LGBT young people feel isolated and alone due to their identity. At Just Us, we strive to help each other know that this should never be the case.
The creation of community is one of the most important aspects of our work at Just Us, the sense of isolation is lifted and young people begin to thrive and grow into healthy and happy teenagers with their sights on a bright and beautiful future. An intoxicating by product of feeling connected with others who are like you, is hope. So I guess you could say that we are in the business of helping young people find hope – hope for life, hope for love, hope for joy, and hope for a full and happy life living authentically.
The journey for hope is a unique and special experience for each of the young people who consider Just Us as a priority in their busy schedules of school, sports, music, work and other life necessities. Although the journeys are very personal, we as program directors are afforded the honor of witnessing the beauty of the growth and development of each young person’s progression of self acceptance and empowerment. Our hearts and minds are tattooed with the images of transformation we see each week – the tears, the laughter, the smiles, and the illumination that follows the discovery of self-worth. While our youth benefit from our programs every week, we are equally fortunate as we are blessed to witness the sacred processes of becoming and to remain in the presence of young people who seek refuge from oppression and discover hope along the way.
Each month we will try to capture a small glimpse of the journey for hope that we witness, keeping our young people’s identity safe and secure, but sharing the gifts of lives lived authentically which they share with us each week.
Pamela S. Sheffer – Program Director, Just Us @ Oasis Center