As an intern with Free2Be, I have been gifted with so many opportunities to expand my mind and my skills. Free2Be provides much needed services to an under-served population in an area of the United States where LGBTQ people are often overlooked if not facing outright discrimination. The agency is also venturing into new and unexplored territory for themselves and for the LGBTQ South with their new programs. They are braving the rough waters of grantwriting and working under the auspices of grant administrators in order to supply the LGBTQ community with anti-violence programs such as outreach, advocacy, therapeutic and supportive groups, counseling for individuals, couples, and families, as well as community events related to domestic violence, sexual assault, bullying, and suicide prevention and awareness. Free2Be is an agency that challenges itself to do better and provide higher quality services to a community that often faces unique challenges.
I've been involved with Free2Be for several years, and have watched the organization grow rapidly, expanding services at a phenomenal rate, especially considering they operate strictly on donations with no government or grant funding. For a time, I volunteered at weekly meetings for LGBTQ young people, and witnessed first hand the affect that acceptance has on those who have been made to feel they are different and somehow less worthy than their classmates. It is no exaggeration to say that lives have been turned around, and literally saved due to the efforts of James Robinson and the staff of volunteers and counselors. No one should face life in the isolation of the closet, feeling they have no hope for the future and no chance of acceptance. Free2Be strives to see that no one, young person or adult, no matter where they may fall along the spectrum of gender identity and/or sexual orientation, faces life alone. This is vital in the South, where those who do not fit the 'norm' are quite often in fear for their lives, and with good reason. Violence is all too common as a means of problem-solving in the region, and must be countered with positive measures on all fronts. The integrity of the executive director permeates the agency, and the staff and volunteers are held to the highest possible standards in providing those positive measures so necessary to the physical and mental health of the LGBTQ South. It is impossible to overstate the impact Free2Be has had on the community in Huntsville and the surrounding areas, or to understate the need for it to continue to expand the services offered.
I met James Robinson of GLBT Advocacy and Youth Services at a showing of the movie "For the Bible Tells Me So". I knew immediately I had met an extraordinary man. Here was an articulate, compassionate, honest man, imbued with integrity, unafraid to take a stand for both GLBT rights and faith — a far cry from the images we see so often in the news. As I began to learn more about GLBTAYS, I became even more impressed. Advocacy for GLBT youth is urgently needed when the authority figures in a young person's life may be the very ones who are heaping vitriol upon them. It's a serious problem; from May 1 to May 13 (Mother's Day) ten young people committed suicide after being bullied. Nearly one every day. One of those was 7 years old. These kids need to know beyond a doubt that someone is there for them, that someone will stand between them and those who have targeted them for hatred. James is that someone in our area. I've watched GLBTAYS work tirelessly to support a student bullied by a teacher at a local high school, persevering and determined that things would be made right despite apparent indifference from the school board. I've watched GLBTYAS reach out to the community on behalf of a troubled teen from our area who was in a dangerous home situation. When my own work for the GLBTQ community becomes burdensome, when hope is so fragile a single breath could destroy it, when anger at injustice reddens everything I see, James is there, calm, courageous, constant — always working, always giving, always caring. His is the soul of GLBTAYS, the force that gives it life, and is reflected in its every activity. We need the services that GLBTAYS provides and we need them badly; James ensures we have them. He and the organization have my deepest admiration.
An oasis of compassionate outreach in the otherwise barren landscape of Alabama. The Free2Be LGBTQ resource center in North Alabama is a one-of-a-kind resource center that the Huntsville community is incredibly fortunate to have. It's certainly a feather in the cap of a progressive city to have an organization devoted to equality. Kudos to founder James Robinson for his activism and vision.
I volunteered at Free2Be all summer and had the greatest time of my life. I got too help with everything from basic office function to helping set up Rocket City Pride. I am very grateful to James Robinson for creating this great organization to help the lgbt community of Alabama and I consider it a privilege to have been able to volunteer here.
I was invited to perform at Rocket City Pride in 2012 when I first met James Robinson and the incredible group of volunteers at Free2Be LGBTQ Resource Center. I was totally blown away by the work they are doing there. After seeing all of the people they offer their services to and hearing their stories, I knew that this was an organization I wanted to be affiliated with and support.
This program fulfills a great need in the Alabama area. There are so many LGBTQ youth that have been turned away by their families, churches, friends and schools for simply being who they are. This organization provides resources to these valued members of society. They have made a huge difference in many lives and manage to do the best they can with meager finding. It my hope that this vital program get as much funding as possible so that even more lives can be saved.
I am both a volunteer for this group as well as a donor. James Robinson is an awesome person who has a never ending love for humankind and believes strongly in civil and human rights for all. I am proud to be affiliated with GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services, Inc. I am even more proud to be a friend of James Robinson. We have worked together for many years in the public school system. We have seen it all when it comes to the abuse, bullying and indifference to children. This organization is the salvation for kids in the south who find themselves in impossible situations. They provide support, love, resources for these children/youth who otherwise may feel there is no option for them other than suicide. The real life stories that come to the attention of this advocacy group are nothing short of completely heartbreaking. Until I got involved with this group, I had no idea how fast and large this problem has gotten. There are far too many children as well as adults who are "shunned" or abused by their families, friends, community simply for being who they are. To me, this is totally unacceptable in this day and age. People are people period. I wish labels could be completely eliminated and replaced by being individuals. I think a lot of the problems come from misinformation, misunderstanding, and just plain ignorance. This group is out there, making people aware of the problem and offering ways for others to help. I totally support GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services, Inc. and encourage others to check out the work they do and help in anyway possible. We are all children of God...the details really don't matter.
Through the magic of social media, even up here in nyc we have become very familiar with James Robinson and the amazing work him and his league of extraordinary colleagues have done. The work they have accomplished in a relatively short period of time is astounding.
My husband and I were lucky enough to get to attend a holiday event last year and meet the team and learn about all they do, and what they have planned for the future. It's exciting and inspiring. James and his team together have done great things and will continue for a long long time. I can't wait to see how they grow and hope we get to be lucky enough to be a part of it!
The LGBT Youth Advocacy Group has been a true blessing in my life. I feel that as a young adult looking back being able to see that there were people like me who cared about my safety & well being was a wonderful thing to get me through the point I was at in that time. James Robinson was the one who really touched my life and showed me that it was okay to be gay, to be proud, and embrace all that I am as an LGBT individual. He also was able to help awnser questions I had about being gay & a Christian. I am honored to have had this group apart of my life!
The Huntsville GLBT Advocacy Group is a growing opportunity to help young teens and young adults with family problems, counseling, self acceptance, and provides a safe warm environment. I personally feel it is a credit to society and making young lives better, one person at a time. Any support given to them is a gift, one that is treasured whether is financially, with giving time, and support in general. The director James Robinson is a good man, who is after Gods own heart. I highly recommend getting involved in this growing community that represents Love, Tolerance, And Support.
The people that volunteer for this organization are so passionate and sincerely care about the work they do. GLBTAYS promotes equality and diversity through advocacy and activism, counseling, support groups, and community events such as Rocket City Pride. The positive impact this organization makes is amazing, especially given that they are only around 5 years old and are working with very few resources. I am extremely proud to be even a small part of what they do.
This fabulous organization is doing everything they can to further equality and offer a sense of community to everyone on the LGBT scene. The work they do for queer youth cannot be met in the area. I've attended a few events sponsored and have always felt welcome, comfortable, and a part of some bigger picture of unity.
I have been in touch with GLBT Adocacy and Youth Services, Inc. and have known many of those in leadership and clients also served by this organization since the inception of the organization. I am please to see the growth and unfluence of those involved and served. I have seen a lot of education and assistance given by this group. Many have grown in self esteem and freedom of expression. I am pleased to see what they have done for many in the community and in the surrounding area.
This program is doing so much with so little resources, it is amazing the outreach it has. From as far away as 3 to 4 hours people come to know what exist in Huntsville Al. From counseling, to support and everything in between, the people that make up its staff or God sent angels in my eyes. The sacrifices they make to give someone a voice, a friend, a colleague, an opportunity an ear to listen. It is what non profits do that make the blessing be personal and life sustaining. This non profit organization is outstanding even though challenged amazingly.
My husband and I (both recently retired) find this organization to be a respite to all in the community, since everyone is welcomed, loved and accepted right where they are. The GLBT Center reaches out to help those who have no where to go, and need the support of those who may have similar experiences. How fortunate and grateful we are to have such a progressive and truly inclusive place in our community !It is a place we know we are always loved and welcome. I would like to mention that we are a heterosexual couple who feels honored to be a part of this wonderful place.
I have the honor of being the Volunteer Coordinator at GLBTAYS. All of our staff including our Executive Director are volunteers putting in around 7000 hours this year alone. I have volunteered at other organizations but none as well organized, compassionate or professional as this one. We have many activities going on during the week from AA, NA, craft circles, youth support group, trans support group, breast cancer survivor support group , and a social time to build community on Sundays. Please go to our web site to see what else we do and come volunteer with us!!! Together we are making a difference!!
GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services is an excellent service-oriented organization for the GLBTQ youth and adults they serve in Huntsville and surrounding areas in North Alabama. They started with so little and have grown to a bigger location due to their growth in helping others in the GLBTQ community. Jame Robinson and his volunteers have participated in many community activities in order to expand their outreach to any GLBTQ youth and adults that may not have any supports systems at home, school, or work. They hold support group meetings for GLBTQ youth and adults so they can have a safe place to meet others in the GLBTQ community. They have been recognized in the media for the work and in helping students fight discrimination in their own school. I havent got to volunteer as much as I had planned due to living and working in Tennessee, but I would definitely devote my time to helping James and his other colleagues in making GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services a safe place for all people.
GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services is a wonderful and vital non-profit organization that advocates for and supports gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth as well as adults in the North Alabama region. James Robinson works very hard in trying to secure funding to keep this organization alive for the benefit of our glbtq youth and adults. The organization offers a variety of services from peer support groups to a host home program. I, myself, have attended and assisted several safe schools workshops in Alabama and South Florida as well as volunteered for several glbtq youth events in South Florida. So I can recognize a great and valuable organization from my own experience as well as from the viewpoint of an educator that accepts all youth from all backgrounds. So please support GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services if you can so our youth will have a safe place to go and be themselves.
I cannot say enough positive things about this organization. They care deeply and they work hard to help all people in our community feel included as valued citizens. The strive to help the community see that we are all humans with feelings and families and desire to live peacefully together. They offer educational support for all ages and especially stand with youth against discrimination and bullying. Their professionalism is above reproach. Now that they have adequate space to accept personal growth groups, news of their caring is spreading.
I am a volunteer as well as the Chair of the Board of Directors for GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services, Inc. I currently moderate the transgender support group that was the North Alabama Gender Center and is now a part of GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services, Inc. I first learned of the organization as it was forming and knew that I had to help. I immediately became a volunteer for the youth support group in addition to the transgender support group and share my knowledge and experience where needed.
Youth today face enough troubles without being shown intolerance or bullied because they are or perceived as being GLBT. Being in the South where religion sometimes shows its extremism, kids are often thrown out of their homes if they come out as GLBT and often have no where to go. That's where we step in as an advocate.
In the few years we have been around, we have expanded our services immensely. We have been grateful to the Spirit of the Cross church here in Huntsville for donating their hall for our groups and now that we have our own space, Our Space Community Center, we continue to grow. Besides the youth and transgender support groups, we have a Host Home Program, AA support group, breast cancer support group and caregivers support group, craft circle, just to name a few.
Please consider donating your time and money to help this organization continue to grow by supporting and advocating for our community.
GLBTAYS is the only agency of its kind in Alabama and serves a large number of people within the LGBT community as well as any one else who may need assistance. It has provided a safe, non-judgmental environment for many people, and is an invaluable asset to the community and the enrichment of the city of Huntsville and state of Alabama
GLBTAYS is an amazing organization that provides a safe place for members of the GLBTQ community and allies to come to hang out, receive free community counseling, discuss today's issues, and make new friends! I'm proud to be a volunteer at such an exceptional, caring organization!
I have the pleasure of volunteering at this most awesome of agencies with the most awesome people doing the most awesome things. We're small but we do HUGE things to support and act as allies for the GLBTQ commUNITY here in the bustling metropolis of Hunstville, AL.
My wife and I were recently wed and the support from our friends and family here at OurSpace was heartfelt and abounding. I hope you'll recognize us and help us spread the word that we are here and welcoming to all with open arms.
As a straight woman minister who deals with much emotional trauma, I am so grateful to GBLTAYS as a resource so greatly needed in this southern conservative area. James Robinson and his crew of dedicated volunteers, of which I am one, continue to find gaps in the resources available to a vulnerable population. The services are available to anyone without discrimination to age, sex, race, religious background or any other discriminator.
I joined the GLBT CENTER as a volunteer in May 2013. My goal was to join with the youth group because I have a gay teen and not all parents are accepting. My experiences at the center have been great. All the people that volunteer their time to the center are doing wonderful things. And again this is all on a volunteer basis. We do this for our community and to have a positive affect on people's lives. I would recommend for anyone to join and volunteer for the center. We are doing great things and we will continue to grow and help people in need.
The GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services Organization and its very capable and hard-working director have significantly enhanced awareness of, respect for, and acceptance of GLBTQ issues. I am deeply moved whenever I have the chance to witness how they fight for human rights and actively extend assistance to all those in need of support, consolation, and solidarity. This organization has become an indispensable asset to the wider public in the city and region, and deserves continued recognition.
I am proud to state that I have been a volunteer with this organization for over a year. GLBTAYS has helped me with free social services, education and by bringing together the North Alabama LGBTQ Community. Our staff is made of all volunteers and it is incredible the number of volunteers the agency has to utilize to continue building the organization. Just this summer, we had over 100 volunteers for Rocket City Pride, where we had over 2,500 attendees - our major event for the year. Everyone here from the Executive Director James Robinson down to a part-time volunteer are always warm and welcoming. I love volunteering here as I can see how our organization helps people on a daily basis.
James was by far the friendliest person I have ever talked to. He answered all my questions and gave me all the info I would need to find what I am looking for. It can be really scary coming out and having to deal with all the hate, but he gave me a little ray of light. I wish more people were as kind and generous with their time as he was with me.
James Robinson is a particularly hard-working director of this worthy cause, helping homeless GLBT youths find a place to live where they can go and thrive after being rejected by their families. His is one of only a few organizations doing this valuable work and he is truly making a difference. I am so glad our paths crossed and I was able to help in some small way. I hope GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services doubles in strength and size so it can continue to help those who need them most.
This wonderful organization is filling a great need in the Huntsville community. LGBT youth are some of the most underserved population. This age group is extremely vulnerable, with very few resources or support. GLBTAYS is working to fill that need. Youth often have no voice and can easily become victims with no place to turn. LGBT youth in the Huntsville area now have that support. This is a wonderful organization with dedicated leadership - a real labor of love.
I first became involved with GLBTAYS when I attended the Community Discussion on Bullying for a class I was taking. Since then I’ve been motivated and inspired by James Robinson’s tireless efforts at raising awareness and creating resources for the members of the GLBTQ community in Alabama. I grew up in North Alabama and I can understand how isolating it can be for anyone who even appears to be “different.” James is providing an invaluable resource for the local community and at the same time promoting awareness by speaking at colleges, mediating with schools and attending various events to help promote equality. I have never seen one person work so hard to make a difference. Over the past year, the national media finally started paying attention to the problems faced by the gay community and its youth in particular. Gay teens face more adversity than almost any other group. They are at a higher risk for suicide, homelessness and bullying. It is wonderful to see an organization in our state that is so dedicated to doing something about it.
I'm a bisexual woman as well as the gay-straight alliance president of a local college, UAHuntsville. GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services was founded around the same time the UAH GSA was over 2 years ago and so James Robinson and I began working together. I've lived in Huntsville, AL all my life and didn't encounter the GLBTQ community or learn about GLBTQ issues until I began to co-found a gay-straight alliance. Huntsvillians simply don't talk about GLBTQ issues. As a whole, our community is more progressive than the vast majority of the state, but these issues were seldom focused on until GLBTQ organizations began surfacing a little more. GLBTAYS is still the only organization in the area specifically dedicated to youth dealing with non-heterosexual orientation and gender identities. This work is essential in a largely conservative state and community that is largely uneducated (sometimes by choice) about the struggles of GLBTQ individuals. GLBTQ youth need a place to go and James Robinson offers one of the few outlets in the state of Alabama.
I’m a mom, wife, PTA president and community volunteer raising two daughters. My husband and I deal with the typical growing pains of teen girls. Best friends, boyfriends, dating, crushes, etc. But, even with all the stress of growing up… it’s easy to be “straight” in Huntsville, Al. I can only imagine how difficult teen life could be as a LGBT youth, going through these same issues. We would’ve been great parents to a gay kid, but we weren’t. And unfortunately, in this ultra conservative community being gay and accepted is hard to find. That’s why I am so glad James Robinson launched LGBT Advocacy and Youth Services. Not only does LGBTAYS offer a safe connection for youth, but adult allies from both the gay and heterosexual community now have a place to offer their support. Huntsville is one of the fastest growing and expanding cities in Alabama. Helping the youth of our community to have a strong self worth and ethical role models is vital to the success of any community. I predict that because of James Robinson and LGBT Advocacy and Youth Services, Huntsville is on a better path to a more successful future for all of its citizens. I’m thrilled and delighted to be a friend of James Robinson and LGBT Advocacy and Youth Services.
I have been very blessed to see first hand the difference that the GLBT Advocacy Youth Services, and James Robninson, has made in the lives of people in our community. From their inspiring Anti-Bullying campaign to their much needed home placement program for homeless GLBT youth they are truly creating the change that is needed in this world. They are not an agency of just words, speaking only of the difficulties that our community faces, but they are an agency of ACTION, always offering solutions. Whether gay, straight, young or old, EVERYONE who cares about all people being treated with compassion and equality should contact this organization and find out more about the programs that they have in place and how you can donate financially and/or of your time. Thank you James Robinson for your tireless efforts!!
My name is Hilton and I’m Brazilian. I live in a medium size conservative town here in Brazil. Most of my family is Catholic and some members are Protestants. You can imagine how difficult it will be to me to come out of the closet to them. If I came out today, they would screw me and kick me out of my house. Something I hope never happens to anyone. There were a couple of times when I saw James Robinson’s facebook page and some of the posts he put on his profile about his organization. I decided to send him a message through facebook asking him for some help because I was really in a dark moment. I was about to do something very bad. I was having some suicidal feelings. One day we finally chatted and he comforted me and was really kind and supportive of me. I will always be very grateful for his support. Today, I don’t have those suicidal feelings anymore. I will come out to my parents and I will be myself entirely even if they screw me because James helped me to build my confidence and courage to go ahead with my life, no matter what. So, even not knowing him personally I loved all the words this man said to me through facebook. We became friends and I hope someday we can meet personally. So, I’m sure he’s been leading his organization so well and I wish I could help financially (something I’m sure I will do someday). So, if you’re sensitive to this cause and want to express the thankfulness for being a successful man or woman in Alabama or in any other state in US, please give a donation to this organization GLBT Youth Services & Advocacy. This organization is great, giving others the courage to go ahead with their lives being who they really are and helping them with accommodations when their parents kick them out of their houses.
I am new to the Huntsville area and am so impressed that an active organization like this exists in what can be a very hostile part of the country for LGBT individuals. Whether through individual interventions or community events, GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services is a strong part of the Huntsville community. I remember what it was like to grow up in a small Alabama town and to be so very afraid that I was the only gay person in the whole world. That sense of isolation is terrifying. I am grateful that this organization exists so that GLBT youth and adults have a support system and opportunities to form a community. That community is small, but GLBTAYS is working hard to ensure that GLBT individuals feel safe in coming out and joining that community. Visibility and the freedom to proud of who you are is essential to anyone's health and happiness. I'm proud to support GLBTAYS and the very necessary work they are doing to form and enrich a positive GLBT community in Huntsville.
I have had the privilege and great honor of watching GLBTAYS form from an idea into the innovation that it is today. To say that it has been a rewarding experience is an understatement. I have known the joys of seeing various young people from all walks of life and orientation glean a positive experience from their involvement with this organization. It has been so much fun and fulfilling, really, to meet so many people who just want to help these youth. My reflections on my teenage years and my own experiences have helped me appreciate what we are doing here...i can only wish that every community in every city, state, or country had a James Robinson to selflessly cultivate and nurture a body of volunteers and mentors and friends into the culmination of the wonderful thing that GLBTAYS is... I can only hope that the group continues to grow and garner the resources needed to offer unlimited help and hope to these young people. I have been humbled to be a part of this, to see beyond myself and further within. To me, GLBTAYS encompasses helping and healing for everyone involved.
In James Robinson, not only have I found a friend, but the hardest working advocate for GBLT in north Alabama and southern Tennessee! I wish everyone I know to support this tremendous organization for the support they give to youth in troubled situations!
I could be very professional and watch my words closely as I type, but I don't feel like this organization deserves that. No, it definitely deserves much better. GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services is a fantastic organization that is worthy of an uncensored review. This agency is professional in helping people, but it takes much more than that to truly make a difference in our community. When a child is going through hell because they don't understand who they are, when they realize who they are and they don't feel accepted, when they simply aren't accepted, this is an organization that welcomes them with open and loving arms. Sometimes it takes more than professional words to make a difference and this organization offers that. Most everyone that volunteers with the agency has gone through their own separate hell and wants nothing more than to stop someone from going through what they did. They relate to the people that they help and they are able to put their heart fully into their work. Since I have joined, I've seen so much pain through this organization. I've heard of teenagers running away from home due to abuse, I've heard of people being beaten and bullied, and I've heard of people who are tormented daily all because of who they love. However, I've also seen a lot of happiness as well. People come together in the groups, they learn that they're never alone in their pain, and the people who need help get help. This group is set on making a change in the world. This group 'will' make a change in the world.
This organization is an excellent source of community togetherness to provide information and support to the LGBT community. I am continually amazed at the outpouring of love and inspiration that they exhibit.
GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services is a one-of-a-kind organization in the Tennessee Valley area. I have personally been witness to the organization's growth from an idea into an effective community service agency that not only serves the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender population that it mentions in its mission statement but also serves the needs of the entire community. From donating food to the homeless, hosting school supply drives for disadvantaged youth, hosting peer support groups, or partnering with universities to reach glbt individuals on their campuses, GLBT AYS is proving to be a staple in the community. And with the help of its Executive Director, James Robinson, it will become one of the few agencies that stays around for the long haul.