- Ian Sullivan & Mark Cuilla
A Time to Support OYM
Updated: Mar 23, 2022
Dear Odyssey Supporter,
Thank you for being a part of Odyssey Youth Movement, promoting equity for LGBTQ+ youth right here in the Inland Northwest. Over my years at Odyssey I have had the privilege of working alongside some amazing people including Spokane’s LGBTQ+ youth and the people who support them. When I first met Mark, he was a mentor in the OYM drop-in center on Thursday nights, and as we got to know each other I discovered what an advocate he is for LGBTQ+ youth equity throughout our community, due in part to his time as an Odyssey Youth. Here is his story in their own words.
“I first walked in the doors of Odyssey in 2003, when the drop-in center location was learned by word of mouth. There was no sign on the door, no rainbows or flashing lights. The entrance was in an alley. It was not the most welcoming building, but as soon as I was inside, I knew I was home. The love and compassion I was shown from the moment I walked through that big alley-way door for the first time was exactly what I needed. I found a place where I could be who I was without being judged. I found a place where I could be who I was and I was safe.
I learned about advocacy and history, anatomy and safer sex, friendship and love. I met lifelong friends and learned lifelong lessons about standing up for marginalized people, including myself.
After aging out of Odyssey, I became a volunteer mentor and donor. I found a sense of wholeness in giving back to the community that helped shape me. Later, I joined the board of directors to help guide the direction of Odyssey. Now, as I near the end of my tenure on the board of directors, I’ve spent time reflecting on what Odyssey was then, and what Odyssey is now.
We have grown from a secretive organization in an alleyway to an out and proud organization located in the heart of the thriving South Perry District. We have gone from an organization that served predominately gay and lesbian youth to an organization that serves youth and young adults across the LGBTQ+ spectrum. We are known in Spokane as a resource for youth, young adults, families, and schools. We have changed a lot over the 16 years since I first stepped foot in the door, but one thing has remained the same: Odyssey’s commitment to compassionately serving LGBTQ+ youth and ensuring they have a safe place to be who they are.
Odyssey continues to be a vital organization in Spokane. As policy attacks on the LGBTQ+ community continue to grow nationally, Odyssey maintains its steadfastness as a safe and secure place for youth and young adults to share their concerns, gather resources, and know they are not alone.”
Odyssey and Spokane’s LGBTQ+ youth need you. We need you to INVEST, STAND IN SOLIDARITY, and SUPPORT. You can do so by donating securely online at odysseyyouth.org/invest. Please give today and be a part of a movement working towards a community of thriving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth and young adults throughout the Inland Northwest.
Board Chair 2017-2019
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