Liz Bradbury's 12 Days of Giving Page
Again this year, I’ve been asked to be part of the 12 Days of Giving effort here at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center. Our employees and board members to entreat 12 friends, family, and other allies for $100 each, so that each of us can raise $1200.
As I said last year, I’m not wildly comfortable asking for money, but here goes…
Even though COVID-19 has changed the way we are bringing services to the community, we have actually added support groups, programs, groundbreaking research, youth outreach and support, legal action for national LGBT equality, and arts and cultural programs.
And just one of our essential projects we did in 2020 was that in a nonpartisan way, we contacted our entire list of 6000 folks in the important election state of Pennsylvania to help them register to vote, apply for mail-in ballots, and get their votes filed in time. As you know Pennsylvania flipped from red to blue in this election (You’re welcome!).
Please consider this donation, we are doing terrific things at the Center. We now have 15 employees with living wage salaries and full benefits when just 4 1/2 years ago we had two.
Check out this amazing illustrated list below of just some of our wonderful and crucial work our departments are doing. Of course our Executive Director Adrian Shanker oversees it all and my beloved Trish Sullivan is still volunteering, and I’m the Director of the Center’s Training Institute, but I’ve also included the names of the employees and have mentioned some of the volunteers working to make these community services and programs happen.
All our programs are FREE!
Our youth program, Project Silk, has developed daily live on-line outreach for youth, including games, chat, and support. We also create care-packages with healthy living items, books, games and crafts, and face masks and other PPE for youth, that are delivered regularly directly to youth at their homes, or living spaces for youth who have housing issues. We have a therapist to support youth. And when the weather is warmer, we had a regular safe outdoor program which should resume in the Spring. Many hundreds of 14 to 21 year old youth have taken part in these services.
Kim Ketterer is the Youth Programs Manager and oversees all these programs. We believe in a brave space model where our Center is an affirming space for LGBT youth to be themselves. We also take great responsibility in promoting healthy youth decision making, including regular HIV testing, wellness check-ins, tobacco cessation, and non-partisan voter registration. If the only thing our LGBT Center did was provide our youth program, we would be fulfilling an important mission, but we do so much more!
Our Monthly or Twice Monthly Support Groups include:
Peer led groups:
Parents of Transgender Children (of any age) this program is so well attended
Parents of younger LGBT Adolescent Kids (coming very soon)
A Space for Aces (for Asexual and Aromantic folks)
SHADEZ - A Queer Black, Indigenous, People of Color Group
Lehigh Valley Lesbians
Breathe - A Queer Spirituality Support Group
And these professionally led groups:
Bereavement Group - for LGBTQ people who have experienced loss. Led by Rev. Anne Huey
LGBT+ Cancer Support Group - Led by Cancer Support Community
Legal Clinic - Offers free on-line 30 minute Zoom consultations regarding Transgender name and document changes, LGBTQ discrimination, family law and other topics provided by local Attorneys with expertise in LGBT issues.
And a new mental health support group for folks experiencing distress regarding the pandemic.
Reilly Callahan is our Health Outreach & Supportive Services Coordinator and part of her job is to manage all these well attended groups. These direct outreach groups have always been very important but right now during COVID-19 these groups have been a life-line to many people, and they’re open to people anywhere in the US who can log into the Zoom on their computer.
Our Health Programs include: Tobacco Awareness and Cessation information — Because Tobacco is the biggest killer of the LGBT community.
*Tobacco Prevention & Cessation: Promoting smoke-free living in the LGBT community
*Promoting the Hepatitis A Vaccination: 'If you like the taste of peaches': campaign to promote Hep A Vaccinations for the LGBT community
*Cervical Cancer Screenings: If you've got it, Pap it: promoting cervical cancer screenings for LGBT people assigned female at birth
*Anal Cancer Screenings: That Ass Tho!: promoting anal cancer screenings for gay & bisexual men
*Colorectal Cancer Screenings: Promoting colorectal cancer screenings for LGBT people aged 50 and above
*Breast Cancer Screenings: A Mammogram Can Be A Lifesaver: promoting breast cancer screenings for all
*Ending Conversion Therapy: Protecting Lehigh Valley's LGBT youth from harmful and unscientific "Conversion Therapy"
*Sexual Health & HIV Prevention: Free & non-judgy HIV/STI testing and access to free safer-sex materials
*We also help with Affordable Care Act enrollment,and help with Medical Marijuana enrollment. All of these are non-judgy.
*COVID-19 Outreach & Education: Addressing the impacts of COVID-19 on the LGBT community - Where we have the latest COVID-19 information
*For the second year we’ve had a terrific credit-granting nursing educational program, that helps nurses develop expertise in the health needs of LGBTQ people.
*We even put together a social distanced drive-by flu vaccine event in October in front of our Center, where community members were able to get free flu vaccines without leaving their cars
*Every summer we’ve funded Pride festivals throughout Pennsylvania to be tobacco free, because showing youth that you can be part of the LGBTQ community and NOT SMOKE has been proven to help keep LGBTQ beginning smoking at an early age. But this year, because of COVID-19 and that the other mostly volunteer Pride Organizations in Pennsylvania are having revenue problems because they couldn’t have their festivals, we fueled funds to many of them to create partnerships in our funded health programs so their they can increase outreach.
Kimberly Levitt is our Health Programs and Supportive Services Manager
The entire health team is:
Katie Suppes, Director of Programs, Research, and Evaluation
Kimberly Levitt, Health Programs and Supportive Services Manager
Christina Graham Brasavage, Data and Evaluation Manager
Reilly Callahan, Health Outreach and Supportive Services Coordinator
Gabby Hochfeld, Health Outreach Coordinator
And Includes a lot of work by Adrian Shanker our E.D.
This year Bradbury-Sullivan Center co-published the groundbreaking and now critically acclaimed book of LGBTQ Health essays — Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health, compiled and edited by the Center’s Executive Director Adrian Shanker. I am pleased to say that I wrote one of the chapters in this terrific book that features essays by major and diverse LGBTQ activists from around the world! That Chapter I wrote is - Caregiving Concerns for Older LGBTQ Adults.
We host many Arts and Culture programs (currently virtually) that are both social and educational events.
*Art Shows: As our terrific galleries in our Center have to be closed during the pandemic, we now have a Pop-Up Art Gallery and Bookstore in the Art Walk of Allentown that is a delightful public space and is set up for social distancing. With required mask wearing and very limited occupancy and limited viewing time, it’s a safety conscious space for a great art viewing experience
Memoir Reading Group - Led on Zoom by Prof. Mary Foltz of Lehigh University - monthly
Author Talks - monthly
Poetry Book Reading Group - facilitated by Jimmy Hamill - Monthly
Reel Queer Film Series: Presenting free screenings of LGBT-themed independent, arthouse, and documentary films— (Temporarily on hold during the pandemic)
Spirituality Mini Series - An annual event - this year’s will be on MLK Day and will feature Black Queer Activist Ministers Speaking about Racial Justice
Our library now has over 2000 LGBTQ books that are cataloged on-line and free to borrow
Art History from a Queer Perspective - There are videos you can see but I’m sad that because of COVID-19 I wasn’t able to teach my Art History from a Queer Perspective sets of classes this year. I know people are missing them because they had been the most well attended events by the most diverse and intergenerational attendees of any of our events at the Center. And they are funny! I’m hoping we will be able to resume them soon. BUT in the meantime you can see three new videotaped ones from this year that we featured on our Facebook and Youtube sites — see them here: #1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXQUT0Pg9Pk&t=48s #2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrUzwjdIfAs #3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cLD_wpbEmo&t=15s
The LGBT Community Archive is a program of Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center: It’s focus is preserving our local LGBT history for our future - The Lehigh Valley LGBT Community Archives exists to collect, preserve, and provide access to the rich LGBT community history of the Lehigh Valley. The archive is offered to the community in partnership with Library at Muhlenberg College. This collection documents local and regional LGBT life and activism. It includes publications, organizational records, personal papers, oral histories, and artifacts. Trish and I were really glad that we could donate and have cataloged the 27 years of papers, print materials, and artifacts we had amassed from all the years we’ve been doing local activism.
The Team at the Center working on these Arts and Culture events includes Adrian Shanker, Ariel Torres our Pride Programs Manager, Elizabeth Keiser our Graphic Designer, Kristen Leipert our Archive Specialist, our newest employee Stephen Jiwanmall, our Communications Manager, and me, Liz Bradbury the Director of the Training Institute who also does the art history programs, and I also collected 30 of the oral history interviews for the archives.
We’ve featured, celebrated, and honored several important community events including World AIDS Day, Space for Aces Week Long Celebration, and Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Our Women’s 5k Race Team to Fight Breast Cancer that has been in the annual 5K Classic Race in the Parkway in October for 18 years. (we placed first in the fast walk last year among 54 teams and our median age last year was 56!). But we couldn’t race in the formal race this year because it was canceled. But we did gather and “race” independently on the assigned day together, masked and social distanced. Rev. Anne Huey is the Captain of our Team. Patricia Sullivan is the Chef and she’s ready and waiting for the next time we can race and brunch after the pandemic. It’s a wonderful relationship building social event.
And of course we put on the Lehigh Valley Pride Festival but we couldn’t do it in person because of the pandemic. So Ariel Torres our Pride Programs Manager, Matt Easterwood our Development Director and Adrian Shanker, in a brilliant herculean effort reached out to create a fabulous Virtual Pride Festival by gathering Nationally Famous LGBTQ Icons and Performers, Comedians, Singers — Including Holly Near and a lot of really famous people that younger people know better than I do, and our US Senators, our local representatives, wonderful drag queens, dozens or of others community, and the heroic and lifesaving Secretary of Health of Pennsylvania Doctor Rachel Levine to be part of this wonderful recorded and glitch-free event that happened in August. You can see this wonderful nearly two hour video on Youtube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGuBIH6FH84&t=7s (Really, if you’ve run out of stuff to watch on Netflix this is fun, positive, upbeat event to watch some evening!)
I’m very proud to say that the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center took the lead as a plaintiff to successfully fight against anti-LGBTQ actions taken by the Trump Administration in three key lawsuits.. We were part of the lawsuit that halted the removal of LGBT people from the American Care Act, and we were just successful in an injunction that halted the Administration’s rule that would have prohibited any Diversity Training of any kind, in the United States. Our board and Executive Director made the bold decisions to move forward on these legal actions which benefitted the entire United States. Trish and I are so proud of this! Really how cool it this!
We are a primary organization to make these court cases happen because every two years we have created and led a major health survey reaching out (this year - our 3rd survey) and gathering health information to over 6500 self-identified LGBTQ folks state-wide. This information is formulated and carefully codified — and national healthcare organizations have let us know that this biannual effort in Pennsylvania to collect some of the most comprehensive LGBTQ community health data in the US is nationally significant. The statistics provide vital and significant data on LGBTQ health. No other agency in has been able to collect this kind of data in the US, and with this information Bradbury-Sullivan is able to demonstrate the health needs of the LGBTQ population in PA, which, because of its rural, small city, and large city mix can be applied to a variety of health research concerns, and also can show the harm anti-LGBT government actions can do. This data is groundbreaking.
The Pennsylvania LGBTQ Health Needs Assessment measures the health disparities of LGBTQ Pennsylvanians with regard to HIV, cancer, tobacco, mental health, alcohol and other drug usage, healthy eating and active living, food and housing security, intimate partner violence, experiences with discrimination, access to healthcare, quality of healthcare, and other key metrics. You can read some of this fascinating information and these interesting stats from a widely diverse age, race, socioeconomic sampling of the LGBTQ community, from the survey we just completed this year at https://www.livehealthypa.com/health-team/educational-toolkits/lgbt-provider-toolkit Data collected through the PA LGBTQ Health Needs Assessment are used by public health professionals and LGBTQ organizations to develop programs designed to address health disparities in the LGBTQ community; mobilize support for such programs; and fuel advocacy efforts at the local, state, and federal levels.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this long list: One of our essential projects we did in 2020 was that in a nonpartisan way, we contacted our entire list of 6000 folks in the important election state of Pennsylvania to help them register to vote, apply for mail-in ballots, and get their votes filed in time. I’m proud to say that my intern Monica Vasturia and I reached out directly by phone or personal message to two thousand of those people.
After 25 years of being on call 24/7 I’m still running our LGBTQ Infoline, that allows people to call in to ask for information and referrals on LGBTQ issues and concerns.
And finally - My department — The Training Institute of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center provides LGBTQ Cultural Awareness and Equity Trainings to businesses, organizations, and government institutions. In the last 4 years I’ve done over 200 trainings to over 1100 people. This year was tricky because I wasn’t able to do in-person trainings but we picked up using Zoom very quickly. I did a number of important state-wide virtual trainings to dozens of agencies and then was contracted by the State of Pennsylvania Department of Health to create and provide trainings to 1000 COVID-19 contact tracers. These were to explain collecting LGBTQ demographic information from people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 in order to help target resources to vulnerable populations.
Please help us continue to do this important work by donating $100, and if you can’t manage that right now, and I know times are tough for a lot of folks, any donation of any size will do. If you can donate more than $100, that would be really terrific! (I don’t want to be humiliated and not make it to $1200 and be out paced by some employee half by age! Yipe!) But if you can’t donate this year, I promise I won’t be mad…I’m glad you had a chance to read about what we’ve been doing, I’m really proud of the Center and all this stuff we are doing really helps us deal with adversity and stay strong.
Happy Holidays, and be of good cheer — Here’s to New and Happier Year and a renewed feeling of hope we’ve all been needing so much!
P.S. If your employer matches charitable donations, please don't forget to let them know about your gift as well!