2022 Giving Guide: LGBTQ+
911 N. Mills Ave., Orlando 32803 | 407-228-1446 | zebrayouth.org
The Zebra Coalition’s mission is simple: Empower LGBTQ+ youth to thrive.
What it means, though, what it truly means, is healing what has been damaged, creating communication pathways, instilling confidence in those who have been demeaned, and providing the tools for a productive and healthy life.
The young people who turn to the coalition, a network of organizations focused on support for the LGBTQ+ community, are troubled on many fronts. Unpacking their anxieties and issues must be accomplished through multiple conduits.
The Zebra Coalition provides for the practical needs and the more esoteric: mental-health counseling, short-term housing, educational scholarships, training in leadership, community engagement and activism and stress- and judgment-free downtime activities in its Youth Center.
The coalition is based out of a white, two-story clapboard house, decorated in the colors of pride and offering sanctuary and support just steps from a busy Mills Avenue.
The Z-Crew, as they are known, has developed a proven process for pulling kids out of crisis and onto a stable path toward adulthood.
“We assist with our programs through mental-health counseling, housing and our drop-in center,” says Executive Director Heather Wilkie. “Many of our youth remain in our programming for many years and we track their success through interviewing and assessments.”
Their families have rejected many of its clients and slip into a dangerous life on the streets. In fact, 40% of homeless youths identify as LGBTQ+.
On the streets, these kids are victimized and bullied. According to the Zebra Coalition, they are susceptible to engaging in criminal behavior and contracting HIV from unprotected sex or drug use.
“Oftentimes, youth come to us without family support and very limited resources to help them move toward self-sufficiency,” Wilkie, a licensed mental health counselor, says.
When asked about the significance of the group’s name, Wilkie explained it through a bit of trivia. “Zebras are very unique animals, all with different stripes. A group of zebras is called a dazzle,” she says, offering a lovely way to think of her young clients.
The Center | 946 N. Mills Ave., Orlando 32803 | 407-228-8272 | thecenterorlando.org
Come Out with Pride Orlando | 424 E. Central Blvd., Suite 415, Orlando 32801 | comeoutwithpride.org
One Orlando Alliance | 611 N. Mills Ave., Box 533005, Orlando 32853 | 407-499-1711 | oneorlandoalliance.org
onePULSE Foundation National Pulse Memorial & Museum | 1912 S. Orange Ave., Orlando 32806 | 407-775-2437 | onepulsefoundation.org
Out of the Closet Thrift Stores | 1349 N. Mills Ave., Orlando 32803 | 407-583-4916 | outofthecloset.org