This month, Andrea Capere, host of Thurston Community Media’s Mission Non-Profit, connected with Pizza Klatch, a unique LBGTQ+ allied youth organization located in Thurston County. The organization helps 2-300 youth each week at their events.
“The mission of Pizza Klatch is to foster resiliency within the LGBTQ and allied youth,” says Rosalinda Noriega executive director, “and to create a safe and positive school experience for LGBTQ and allied youth through support, education and empowerment.”
Lunchtime Support Group
Pizza Klatch accomplishes this through their lunchtime support group. “Everyone in the rainbow is welcome, including allies,” says Noriega. These programs occur in 12 of the Thurston County high schools and are facilitated by two adult, training facilitators. The groups are confidential and students choose to belong.
The students report that it’s helping them in development as well as building community and exploring sexual orientation and gender identity in a safe environment, adds Noriega. For many students, Pizza Klatch offers a safe space where they know they won’t be judged or bullied.
“In class I hit a really rough patch with some of the guys and their comments and so I decided I wanted to go a group that would accept me in a more friendly way, and so I thought Pizza Klatch is such a great organization I decided to go and see if I liked it,” explains Serenity Kaiser, youth representative on the Pizza Klatch board. “I like it and now I am a student representative.”
Kaiser says the organization has really made an impact in her. “I feel more empowered with who I am,” she says. “I feel more comfortable and open so when people makes jokes, I’m just kind of like. ‘okay, yeah, that’s cool’ and I’ve learned to brush it off deal with it without it getting to me, and it used to really get to me.”
At these monthly meetings, the 30 volunteer facilitators get together, problem solve, give support and build community. Pizza Klatch also provides training at these meetings and will bring in experts to talk about issues and things that their students may be dealing with, so the facilitators will have to tools to help them.
Lucas Scott Miller, a facilitator since 2012, says he has seen a lot of changes in the youth that come to Pizza Klatch, including building their own support networks. “One of the most rewarding aspects of being a facilitator is seeing how the youth learn to empathize and really be there for each other when they difficulties at home or a school or in the community,” he says.
Aside from working with the youth, Pizza Klatch works with the administrators and faculties at the schools they hold meetings in.
Pizza Klatch is hoping to continue to expand its services, including moving into Rochester and Yelm, the last two high schools in the County, as well as middle schools. They are in need of more volunteers. For more information, visit the Pizza Klatch website.
To learn more about Mission Non-Profit, who connects monthly with local organizations and agencies that are making positive impacts in our communities, visit the Thuston Community Media YouTube channel, visit the TC Media website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.