Rynn openly discusses his difficulty building friendships and finding places for community. Sometimes he feels on edge, unsure of how people will react to him. He’s used to the rejection and bullying that too often comes with being gay. That doesn’t make it any easier. He feels connected to Found Village. His mother agrees. She said they tried other programs, even ones geared towards LGBTQ youth. Even in spite of a handful of rocky experiences with other FV youth, he remains a strong part of the community. For the past 5 years he has been a consistent part of the Found Village Community. His mother says the coaches have poured into him. His self-confidence has improved, and his mood lightened. He no longer self-harms or seeks solace in the walls of the psych ward. He’s also holding down a job at a local pizzeria where he’s on track to be a manager and nearly finished with his post-secondary program. He’s turning 21 this year; thanks to our model, we’ll still have 4 more years to see him continue his journey of transformation.  

What is the alternative for youth if not Found Village? The answer may be a sobering one. In these trying times we can never lose sight of what’s at stake. We are doing life with our young people. Being a soft place to land after a hard blow, a sounding board as they work out life’s challenges, a bridge that connects them to new resources. We remain adaptable and responsive to the needs of our young people, and we are always building relationships. And this really matters.  

It’s a comfort to see that we’re not alone in this endeavor. We are grateful for partnerships like Stand Together that recognize that this vision for Found Village is bigger than us, bigger than this city and has the potential to be a catalyst for major change in this country. And we are grateful for you. Sitting with us, digesting the nitty-gritty details that make the work possible and supporting us through the good, the bad and the ugly. We are grateful for your efforts in moving us forward and lifting us up—especially during tough times. If we ever began to doubt that what we are doing here has meaning and purpose— let’s look to our young people. They keep showing up, so let’s keep showing up for them, too.