Jack Breckheimer & Chandler Wheeler
30 Years Of OYM: The Timeline
After 30 years, there's a lot to share about Odyssey Youth Movement. Over the summer, you've read about Odyssey's legacy and the past, present, and future of LGBTQ+ youth programs in the Inland Northwest. We've shared posts featuring Odyssey's history of youth activism, the ways in which drop-in has changed over the years, and stories from two of our Odyssey alumni.
As we approach Odyssey's 30th Anniversary Brunch (coming up on September 18th), here's a visual refresher on Odyssey's history, from the original HIV/AIDS support group created by the Spokane Regional Health District to today's thriving drop-in center in the South Perry district. Odyssey's timeline was assembled by staff members and originally printed and displayed in June 2022 by YES IS A FEELING gallery to celebrate Pride Month. You can find the visual timeline here with image descriptions or on our 30th Anniversary Brunch page.
Odyssey's Origins: 1992-1994
Above is the first collage in the series, describing some highlights of Odyssey's first few years. The top of the collage says "Odyssey Youth Movement: A Thirty Year Timeline". The collage is split into sections, each with a description of an important event that took place and the year that it happened. In 1991, the idea for Odyssey was proposed at a meeting of the Spokane Regional Health District. Less than a year later, in 1992, the first Odyssey meeting took place as an AIDS prevention and outreach program through the Spokane Regional Health District. By 1993, Odyssey's attendance had grown to over 40 participants; and, in 1994, the Spokane AIDS Network, one of Odyssey's long time partners, was awarded a grant from the Pride Foundation to help support Odyssey programs. Thanks to that grant, Odyssey's first drop-in center opened on the border between downtown and West Central on October 15th, 1994.
Entering The 21st Century: 1994-2006
Above is the second collage in the series, describing some highlights of Odyssey's history in the late 90s and early 2000s. The top of the collage says "Odyssey Youth Movement: A Thirty Year Timeline". The collage is split into sections, each with a description of an important event that took place and the year that it happened. In 2001, Odyssey was granted 501c3 nonprofit status; just in time to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the support-group-turned-youth-center, at an event with over 250 people in attendance. In 2003, Odyssey was awarded the Chase Youth Personal Achievement Award, an award that the organization would earn again the following year, shortly before being featured in the Spokesman-Review for marching in the Spokane Pride Parade. It soon became evident that the demand for queer youth programs and resources was rapidly outgrowing the location on Washington Street, and on April 25th, 2006, Odyssey officially opened the South Perry drop-in center.
Life In South Perry: 2007-2014
Above is the third collage in the series, describing some highlights of Odyssey's history in the 2010s. The top of the collage says "Odyssey Youth Movement: A Thirty Year Timeline". The collage is split into sections, each with a description of an important event that took place and the year that it happened. In 2006, a few months after moving into the new drop-in center location on South Perry, Odyssey hosted the first Masquerade fundraiser, a Halloween party raising funds for LGBTQ+ youth programs and a tradition that has continued into the present. Over the next few years, as Odyssey got into the swing of youth center life, more youth advocacy opportunities presented themselves; for instance, in 2009, Odyssey hosted the Conference of Hope, a conference for LGBTQ+ youth. 2012 saw Odyssey's twenty year anniversary, as well as the publication of "Who Am I?", a collection of stories, poems, and letters from local LGBTQ+ youth. Another of Odyssey's long-standing annual events began in April 2014 with Odyssey's first Youth Queer Prom, an LGBTQ+ inclusive and affirming prom for area youth.
Fast Forwarding Into The Present: 2014-2022
Above is the third collage in the series, describing some highlights of Odyssey's history in the 2010s. The top of the collage says "Odyssey Youth Movement: A Thirty Year Timeline". The collage is split into sections, each with a description of an important event that took place and the year that it happened. In 2017, Odyssey's programs shifted once again to accommodate an emerging need for programs for LGBTQ+ young adults in addition to LGBTQ+ youth, and a young adult drop-in night was added to the Odyssey schedule. As programming rolled on smoothly, the only hitch in the plan was the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020; and, to protect youth, young adults, and the community around them, Odyssey began offering Digital Drop-In, a COVID-safe virtual drop-in experience. Digital services continued throughout 2021, with programs continuing virtually and staff and volunteers dropping off resources such as food, clothing, and hygiene supplies that would normally have been accessible in the drop-in center. As vaccines became more readily available, Odyssey tentatively reopened the drop-in center for in-person services in 2022, encouraging LGBTQ+ youth, young adults, and community members to get vaccinated and continue wearing masks.
And now; here we are! 2022 marks thirty years since Odyssey opened its doors. If you're eager to hear about what the next thirty years could bring for Odyssey, tickets to Odyssey's 30th Anniversary Brunch are now available! The 30th Brunch, happening on September 18th at the Ruby River Hotel, will be free of charge for folks under 25 and $30 for Odyssey alumni, supporters, and community members.
That's not all; Odyssey has a special announcement coming this Friday, August 19th. Keep an eye on our social media so you don't miss out! You can find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tiktok, or by signing up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page.
Interested in Odyssey's programs and resources? Join us at drop-in or on our Discord server! Drop-in for youth ages 13-18 is on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 3-8PM, and for young adults ages 18-24 on Thursdays from 5-9PM. To join our Discord server, fill out the intake form at odysseyyouth.org/programs. Questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.