In September 2010, several publicized suicides of LGBTQ youth reminded United States Air Force veteran and educator, Sharon Herrera, of a pain she was all too familiar with. Having contemplated her own suicide, she knew things had to change and that we needed a community where all children are safe. Sharon knew that with peer and community support she could save lives and build a network of passionate and caring individuals to help LGBTQ youth and their allies in Tarrant County. LGBTQ SAVES (Students, Allies, Volunteers, Educators, Support) was born.
The first LGBTQ SAVES meeting was held in Sharon's backyard. SAVES volunteers funded the organization out of their own pocket while hosting meetings and events where they could. Initially, it was difficult finding a space that would host an organization helping LGBTQ youth in Tarrant County. LGBTQ SAVES hosted their first event, an LGBTQ prom, in winter 2011 at Celebration Church. Meanwhile, Sharon, in collaboration with Tom Anable, David Henderson and Jon Nelson, gay activists and leaders of Fairness Fort Worth, challenged the Fort Worth Independent School District to add a Non-Discrimination Policy. The LGBTQ advocates prevailed and championed equity for staff and students.
LGBTQ SAVES continues to provide a safe and brave space in Fort Worth by hosting in-person and virtual weekly meetings, Pride events, and community dinners for LGBTQ youth and their families. Additionally, we provide resources to include scholarships to youth and volunteers within our organization. Papi Salgado was the first recipient of our LGBTQ SAVES scholarship for youth involved in our program and he served as an Ambassador. Alex Loesch, grandson of founding member Cynthia Loesch, started as a youth in our program in 2010. He was also an LGBTQ SAVES scholarship recipient and served as a Program Leader, giving back to the program his grandma helped start.
LGBTQ S.A.V.E.S. is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions to our organization are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. LGBTQ S.A.V.E.S tax identification number is 81-2693106.