NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – When some in the LGBTQ community come out, they are accepted by their loved ones, but others are not, and that means young adults sometimes end up on the streets.
News 2’s Mark Kelly takes you inside a Nashville shelter with a mission to give LGBTQ youth a safe place to sleep.
“This is the foremost organization doing the queer work in Nashville,” said Micah Sciarappa, program director, Nashville Launch Pad.
For those who end up on the streets, a simple mattress inside a church basement is a warm respite from the cold outside.
“Young people show up at our doors and they’re exhausted, and they are terrified, and they are cold, and they’re hungry, and they’re at their wit’s end,” said Sciarappa.
But Sciarappa’s life’s work is to transition LGBTQ youth on the streets from survival mode to security.
“What we want is when we open our doors to them, it’s warm, it’s inviting, we’re smiling, there’s food.”
Since Nashville Launch Pad started in 2014, the group has housed more than 1,200 guests. Executive Director H.G. Stovall says that the youth that come to their shelters are offered a warm meal, and a welcoming atmosphere that, he says, other shelters in town often can’t provide the LGBTQ community.
“And so if you have to make a decision between living your authentic life and being sheltered, how devastating must that be? How devastating must it be to go back in the closet to receive a hot meal and a place to sleep? That is what launch pad combats,” said Stovall.
Nashville Launch Pad is for LGBTQ youth ages 18-24. Their winter shelter will soon open every night from November through March serving as many as two dozen people a night. And without much government money coming their way, most of their funding is donation-based.
“For $35 a night, you can care for a young adult, and that is a place to sleep, that is a hot meal to eat, that is a hot shower to enjoy. And it’s a place to disconnect from the stress of being un-housed,” said Stovall.
“The beauty of community is the story,” said Stovall.
Nashville Launch Pad is also open to ally folks and those who support the LGBTQ community. Their big fundraiser is coming up October 22nd. It’s called Biscuits for Beds Breakfast.
News 2 investigates why the number of children classified as homeless is rising in our area and what’s being done to help them in our special reports – “Homeless Children”.