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Gay group helps tsunami relief efforts

I had no idea that this organization existed, but it’s a great idea. (PlanetOut):


As the death toll from Sunday’s earthquake and tsunamis rockets past 100,000, dozens of relief organizations are working overtime to provide immediate and long-term relief to survivors. One of the organizations raising money is the Rainbow World Fund (www.rainbowfund.org), the first LGBT world relief agency.

Jeff Cotter, a San Francisco psychiatric social worker, says he started Rainbow World Fund (RWF) four years ago because none of the traditional relief organizations were developing philanthropy and consciousness in the LGBT community. It is that dual mission — direct relief hand in hand with changing opinions and beliefs — that moves RWF. Cotter calls it a solidarity model, rather than a charity model.

…In the past year, RWF has teamed up with relief organizations to increase access to safe drinking water in Central America, eradicate land mines in Cambodia, provide food for victims of hurricane Jeanne in Haiti and save the next generation of Africans from HIV/AIDS (news – web sites). The group works closely with larger charity organizations (such as CARE) to give aid immediately, where it’s needed.

…Because administrative costs are covered by the board of directors and grants from various organizations (including the Catholic Church), RWF can ensure that 100 percent of every charitable dollar goes directly to field service work overseas. In the case of Sunday’s quake and tsunami survivors, aid will go to food, water, vitamins and medical supplies for many months, and possibly years, to come.

But why doesn’t an LGBT relief organization give to LGBT causes? Why enlist gays and lesbians to help victims they know nothing about? The question, Cotter says, should really be: why not?

“We’re about changing attitudes toward gays and lesbians,” Cotter said. “Many of the places we visit and help have very little LGBT presence. Everyone we’ve worked with has been surprised by our commitment, and very open and accepting to our presence.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding