Thursday, April 9, 2009

Reaching Out in Rural America

PFLAG Sauk Valley serves three rural counties in northern Illinois. The chapter was approached to provide written materials about what PFLAG does in Spanish and applied for a diversity grant from PFLAG National. The grant will be used to hire a translator and create a brochure for Spanish-speaking family members in the area who need support through a loved one’s coming out process. In addition, the chapter will create an information line for family members seeking Spanish-language resources in their area.

The chapter has developed a wonderful partnership with their nearby university, Northern Illinois University, and particularly the student group PRISM. PRISM is the LGBT organization on campus. A student from this organization will serve as the translator for the brochure and informational phone message. In addition, the Sauk Valley Community College Cross Cultural Department is providing facility usage for the work that Sauk Valley is doing with the Latino community.

The partnerships do not end at the universities in their area! Since Sauk Valley does not have a Spanish-speaking support group, in order to provide the readers of this brochure with additional support in their language, the chapter is partnering with the Ogle County Public Health Department, the Lee County Public Health Department, the Hispanic Medical Clinic, the Youth Service Bureau, and the YWCA Hispanic Outreach Program in Whiteside County in order to develop a Spanish-speaking support group. These organizations are providing interpreters in Sauk Valley’s support group meetings, space for Spanish language support meetings, and/or one-on-one support for these family members.

Sauk Valley provides us with a wonderful example of how creating an inclusive and accessible chapter cannot happen in vacuum. Form collaborations and build coalitions. The first step to welcoming diversity into your chapter is including and implementing new perspectives regarding the way your chapter functions. Keep up the great work Sauk Valley!

-Kim Jones

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