As a volunteer within the gay community for over 20 years, I find myself very supportive of many organizations, but the one organization that gets most of my attention is Persad Center in Pittsburgh PA. Having volunteered for the organization in many different roles for over 16 years, it is with great pride that I am able to say that I have helped Persad raise over $3,000,000 for their counseling services with their biggest fundraiser Celebrate Life, Celebrate Art. The money raised enables Persad to treat clients with their quality services regardless of the clients ability to pay. These specialized services are so needed in the gay community in order to help those with problems and issues that many other nonspecific counseling centers may not be equipped to understand. A few years ago I aked Betty Hill, the Executive Director of Persad, if she had any little factoids of information that I could use in talking with potential patrons or donors that would help give a picture of what Persad stood for. One of the most interesting and sad statstics, was- that in a nationwide survey, only 11% of counselors and therapists felt comfortable or competent in dealing with LGBTQ issues. When you flip that statistic that means that 89% didn't feel comfortable or competent in dealing with LGBTQ issues. Now, having been in therapy in the past, I know that if there is one thing that you want in/from your therapist is that they feel comfortable and competent in dealing with your issues. Look at it this way you wouldn't take your Mercedes or BMW to a Chevrolet mechanic...sure the mechanic may know the basics about the car but they don't have that specific knowledge or offer the correct services that you need to help fix the problem. Persad is that mechanic who can deal with the specific issues regarding the LGBTQ community and the issues that surround us. As for the future of Persad, I would love to see them in a new space and grow to their fullest potential-and I will be there along the way to help with whatever they need.
I am a longtime volunteer, and one of my family members was a client. I am proud to be involved with this agency, which has long offered services to a population too often ignored and misunderstood. Over the years, Persad has launched innovative programs to respond to new needs: HIV and AIDS, teens, transgender people, and now the aging. It has also expanded its reach to smaller cities in the region which have not had the benefit of experts in lgbtq issues. We are fortunate to have Persad!