10 years ago, Youth Guardian Services began their youth lists, serving over 9000 young people in the peer to peer support program. Additionally, many have made the transition to Executive Directorships and Board membership. The thing that none of us expected was how much this peer to peer support system would turn into a mentorship program, not only saving lives in emergency situations, but training young GLBT persons to take pride in their lives and to become leaders, assuming additional responsibility and learning how to combat ignorance, hate and fear.
I'm very proud to have served as Board Chair for the last few years. We decided early on that the Board would serve only as an adviser. The young people literally do all the work, all the organization, make all the decisions and take responsibility to serve the young people who look to them for help and guidance.
Youth Guard could not have existed before the Internet. Its founder, Jason Hungerford, created it out a need to serve isolated GLBT persons back when the Net was little more than AOL and unmoderated chatrooms. He knew young people needed a protected environment away from adult predators and homophobic hatemongers. But even more than that, he knew that the only way it would survive and continue to serve its purpose, he had to make it self-generating so that, when he "aged out," there would be another young person coming to take over. And another after that.
Bravo to YGS for its work. And if anyone reading this has a couple of extra bucks to throw their way, send 'em a tip. Every dime goes directly into the work. Use the donation page or donate by mail. Right now, a sponsor has offered to DOUBLE any donations received.
Youth Guardian Services
101 E. State St. # 299
Ithaca, NY 14850
If you're a teenager or in your young 20s and you would like to join the monitored email lists (monitored by other young people your own age), go to Youth Guard and sign up. Become a part of a solution.