We recently had the opportunity to help one•n•ten open its new Youth Center for LGBTQ kids and young adults who often find themselves homeless, ostracized from their families, bullied or searching for answers and the self-confidence they need to thrive as individuals.

The media and broader community turned out in force to celebrate the milestone. We’re proud to have helped get the message out for them. It was well-deserved after an arson fire last July left them without their former Youth Center and all of its contents. And it was a great moment to celebrate The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation’s major investment in making this special place possible for youth across the metro Phoenix region. Philanthropy and major gifts like that don’t come easy or often and yet they leave a lasting impact on nonprofit organizations for years to come.

While the wonderful crowd of community supporters energized the event, what struck us most was a message from the podium. Not the one from the Mayor of Phoenix or the head of the Foundation, but a young man named Richie Jay, 22, who shared his story. He talked about how the Youth Center was his home.

Home. Let that sink in. 

Home. A safe place. Home. A safe place despite not being accepted at the place you were born in to.

Home. What does that really mean? Acceptance. Belonging. Comfort.

Creating places and spaces that allow people to feel “at home” is a powerful opportunity. As we continually seek connections and belonging, and while technology only provides fleeting, unfulfilling relationships, the importance of providing safe, welcoming spaces is every more real.

If we consider for a moment what that feeling of home evokes, we can find opportunities to create “home” in pop-up places. In transit, in our homes inviting others in, in a coffee shop, at work – all a places where someone might be thirsting for a warm embrace, a kind comment, a conversation, a deeper connection.

Today, more than ever, we need one another. We need to support our fellow human beings. We need to allow “community” to happen in big and small ways. And we can each play a role in supporting and advancing the connections that matter to our core.

Richie was right. Everyone needs to find a place where they feel at home.

As the holiday seasons approach, consider how you can offer up that feeling of “home” for those in your world.

   
  
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    Grand opening of one•n•ten Youth Center with Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton celebrating with LGBTQ youth served by the organization, including Richie Jay (pink tie-dye shirt at top right).

Grand opening of one•n•ten Youth Center with Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton celebrating with LGBTQ youth served by the organization, including Richie Jay (pink tie-dye shirt at top right).