Media Contact: Jessica McKimmie, Executive Director email@example.com or 360-339-7574
For Immediate Release: Funds, fun and hope for LGBTQ+ Youth
Over 500 community members joined together at the Washington Center to support LGBTQ+ youth at Pizza Klatch’s 2nd annual “A Slice of the Good Life” Gayla on Saturday, January 23rd. The Thurston county nonprofit serves free pizza and support to 250 LGBTQ+ and allied youth each week in 11 local high schools.
The event raised over $78,000, including sponsorships, which is equivalent to ⅓ of Pizza Klatch’s current operating budget. The sold-out VIP reception featured Patty Lally, head of Seattle Office for Civil Rights, and Richard Blanco, who also shared his poetry and stories at the mainstage event. “Love is more powerful than any fear in anybody’s heart. Love, is ultimately, what I think Pizza Klatch is about, and why we are all here tonight,” said Richard Blanco.
The main event opened with a letter of support by Washington State Governor,Jay Inslee, and ended with Chely Wright, Nashville’s first “out” country music star, who shared stories and songs about her struggles coming out. “Not only is [Pizza Klatch] changing lives, but I have no doubt, and I know you have no doubt either, that it is saving lives,” said Chely Wright.
Perhaps the most memorable were heart-felt stories from student speakers Ethan (Capital High School), Meah (Tumwater High School), Ally (Black Hills High School), and Rachel (Olympia High School) about what Pizza Klatch means to them. “It’s so, so, so important, I can’t stress enough, that kids in today’s society have that place to pretty much call home,” said Ethan Tovani, Capital High School Student.
The money raised will support current support group programming in 11 high schools, and helps prepare Pizza Klatch for continued growth. The need for Pizza Klatch across washington state high schools is clear, and the board and staff are also discussing the possibilities of beginning similar support group programming in middle schools. Soon Pizza Klatch will have a team of certified trainers able to train school staff and counselors, and other youth-serving organizations on LGBTQ+ youth suicide prevention and allyship. “It’s a tremendous inspiration to see so many community members who support the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ teens. These students are still at higher risk for depression, substance abuse, self-harm and even suicide,” says Executive Director, Jessica McKimmie.
“Our team of Gayla volunteers have been planning the event for over a year…We wanted folks to not only have a good time, but get excited about Pizza Klatch and the work it does serving LGBTQ+ youth and allies in our community — and I think that happened. Even Richard Blanco and Chely Wright left the event touched by our work and wanting to come back to support it!” said Kelly Hanson, a volunteer serving as this year’s Gayla Chair. ((A HUGE THANK YOU to our dozens of amazing volunteers and event organizers!!))
“A Slice of the Good Life” was made possible by generous sponsors: Title Sponsor:WSFE Local 443, Diamond Sponsor: South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) and SPSCC Foundation; Platinum Sponsors: Chehalis Confederated Tribe of Indians; Gold Sponsors: City of Tumwater, Karen Valenzuela, Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall, Lutheran Church Of The Good Shepherd, Kathryn & Susan Kravit-Smith, Steve & Kathleen Drew, Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder, Shephard Summer, Lacey Councilman Michael Steadman; Silver Sponsors: Rep. Sam Hunt, NOVA School, Beyond the Bridge Foundation, Paul Battan Law, Pride Foundation, Phoenix Offices, Thurston County Treasurer Shawn Myers, and more. Media Sponsors Include: Mixx96 (KXXO96) & Seattle Gay News
ABOUT PIZZA KLATCH:
Pizza Klatch helps some of the the most vulnerable youth in Thurston County. A Pizza Klatch 2014-2015 survey of high school students who participated in Pizza Klatch revealed 91% of students hear LQBTQ+ slurs used in a derogatory way, 70% of youth attendees had attempted to harm themselves in the past, and 34% of youth surveyed had tried at least once to end their life prior to attending Pizza Klatch. The support groups are truly working. 64% of participants feel less isolated at school, 45% Use less alcohol and/or drugs, 71% feel more supported and listened to, and 63% think less frequently about suicide since attending Pizza Klatch.
“Our team of Gayla volunteers have been planning the event for over a year…We wanted folks to not only have a good time, but get excited about Pizza Klatch and the work it does serving LGBTQ+ youth and allies in our community — and I think that happened. Even Richard Blanco and Chely Wright left the event touched by our work and wanting to come back to support it!” said Kelly Hanson, a volunteer serving as this year’s Gayla Chair.