30 Years Of OYM: Odyssey Drop-In Through The Years
One of the most essential parts of Odyssey's programming for LGBTQ+ youth and young adults is drop-in. Odyssey's drop-in program is a time where youth can come hang out at the center and enjoy food, company, and opportunities to learn about LGBTQ+ identity and culture. When looking back at thirty years of drop-in programming at Odyssey, activities have ranged from artistic endeavors to life skills to board games. There were nights devoted to understanding credit cards and financial wellness, evenings featuring epic pool tournaments, outdoor movie nights complete with popcorn, and more, all focused on providing community for LGBTQ+ young folks. Check out some youth favorites of Odyssey drop-in activities through the years below!
Image Description: two Odyssey youth sit at the art room table in front of the gallery wall and create a painting together.
Since Odyssey's humble beginnings as a local HIV/AIDS prevention & support group, drop-in participants have always enjoyed creating art in all its forms. Odyssey's art room on the south side of the building is often chock full of painted canvases, detailed drawings, and (most recently) sculpture work. When opening both of the art closets, youth can find pretty much anything they need to create whatever they have in mind. Yarn for knitting and crocheting, beads and charms for jewelry making, paper in a wide variety of shapes and colors; the opportunities are endless. Of course, one of the best parts of the art room is the Gayllery (pictured above), a display featuring all the newest art from Odyssey participants.
Snacks On Snacks On Snacks
Image Description: two Odyssey youth pose for a photo in the snack kitchen while enjoying granola bars and chips.
One of the biggest draws in any community activity is, of course, free food. As part of Odyssey's mission to promote equity for LGBTQ+ youth, the drop-in center has maintained kitchens since moving into the South Perry location in the mid-2000s. Folks familiar with the drop-in center will know that Odyssey has two kitchens to serve the variety of needs in the LGBTQ+ youth community. One is the dinner kitchen, on the south side of the building; the heart of Odyssey, where youth, mentors, and staff gather together during drop-in to create and eat a hot meal. The other, on the north side of the building next to the art room, is the snack kitchen; this kitchen is open to youth at all times during drop-in, and is well-stocked with pre-prepared foods such as granola bars and fruit snacks, as well as easy-to-prepare snacks and meals like popcorn and ramen. The snack kitchen is often the first stop when youth visit Odyssey during drop-in; grab a soda and some goldfish before you kick back and relax on the couch to chat with your peers!
Community Partner Programs
Image Description: Odyssey youth sit in a circle in the drop-in center living room during a recent biweekly music therapy session.
Odyssey has offered many programs hosted by and featuring community partners over the years. For instance, in the early 2000s, Odyssey offered weekly sex education programming in conjunction with Planned Parenthood. Most recently, Odyssey has been lucky enough to partner with the Hispanic Business & Professional Association to offer biweekly music therapy to local LGBTQ+ youth during drop-in. "Maracas and tambourines were by far youth favorites," Programs Manager Ryan Schlott said recently. "Our facilitator, Laura, was a blast to work with [and] we're glad that HBPA connected us."
This is just a small glimpse into the wide variety of activities that Odyssey has offered at drop-in over the last thirty years. Interested in reading more about Odyssey's drop-in activities? Click here to check out our Activism Through The Years blog post and hear about Odyssey youth's work with advocacy in the community. If you're an Odyssey alumni, we'd love to hear some of your favorite drop-in activities. Email us at email@example.com to share your story!
Interested in Odyssey's programs and resources? Join us at drop-in for LGBTQ+ youth ages 13-18 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 3-8PM and for LGBTQ+ young adults ages 18-24 on Thursdays from 5-9PM. Visit our website at odysseyyouth.org/programs or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.