A welcoming place for LGBT youth in South Jersey

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No matter how a young person defines him or herself— gay, transgendered, questioning, lesbian, intersexed or any of the colors of the beautiful rainbow of our community, they will always be welcome on the third Saturday of every month at Kaleidoscope, a new space, place and crew being organized by young people themselves specifically for queer youth in South Jersey.

Meeting from 1-3pm at “The Spot,” located in the Voorhees Town Center Mall (formerly known as Echelon Mall), the group has already adopted the phrase “Teens Embracing, Experiencing and Transforming the Spectrum” as its slogan.

Organized under the auspices of PFLAG of Collingswood and Crossroads Programs, the group is already off to a great start and will be planning social events, projects, and just good old hangout time to provide youth with a safe place to go and be with other young people who “get it.”

Crossroads, a social service agency founded in 1978 through a collaboration of interfaith community leaders, is a non-profit organization headquartered in Willingboro and with seven other locations in Burlington County. They work to provide help for abandoned, abused or at-risk youth, including therapeutic foster care, life skills training, group homes, family therapy and more. Crossroads serves approximately 350 young people annually, not just in Burlington County but throughout the southern part of the state.

Kristen M. Tahaney, LCSW, director of Community-Based Services at Crossroads says they are looking for help and donations to make a success of Kaleidoscope. Adult volunteers who can pass the mandatory background checks are needed, as well as financial donations to help cover the expenses such as the cost of using the space. There is no charge to the young people themselves. “In order to come to Kaleidoscope, young people don’t have to worry about how they are dressed, what kind of a haircut they have or how their gender identity is being expressed,” Tahaney says, “The message is just come and know you are not alone.”

Another of the important programs developed by Crossroads is Project Discovery, created to provide LGBTQ youth ages 12 to 21 with a community-based, home environment able to deal with their unique social, emotional or behavioral difficulties. Specific training is provided to people creating these therapeutic foster homes that will help young people develop a positive self-evaluation and confidence in the possibilities of a bright future. Funded by Medicaid, Project Discovery has an average length of stay of between 12 and 18 months.

For more information, email southjerseylgbtq@gmail.com or check them out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KaleidoscopeNJ

No matter how a young person defines him or herself— gay, transgendered, questioning, lesbian, intersexed or any of the colors of the beautiful rainbow of our community, they will always be welcome on the third Saturday of every month at Kaleidoscope, a new space, place and crew being organized by young people themselves specifically for queer youth in South Jersey.