The Gifts of Growth

“Happiness exists on Earth, and it is won through a prudent exercise of reason, knowledge of the harmony of the universe, and the constant practice of generosity.”

Jose Marti

The Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, the leading LGBT organization in Western Pennsylvania, has recently announced the recipients of its first round of grant applications through their Lambda Giving program.

The recipients were Persad, ALPHA Pittsburgh, Shepherd Wellness, Marc Wagner, Garden of Peace Project, Northside Common Ministries, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation and Suzanne Kinsky.

Each grant recipient is using the funds to finance their on-going programs, new programs and projects.

Persad Center is a human service organization whose mission is to improve the well-being of the LGBT community, and the HIV/AIDS community. Betty Hill, Executive Director at Persad, said, “Persad is pleased to be one of the Delta Foundation’s grantees this year. The money from its Lambda Giving program is supporting our new services for individuals who are HIV+ to help maintain their commitment to their own health and wellness.”

She added, “We appreciate the long legacy of support that our programs and services have received. It’s been an important resource providing support when few other foundations would consider gifts to LGBT-related projects.”

Shepherd Wellness Community was another one of the grant recipients. Scott Peterman, Executive Director of Shepherd Wellness Community said, “Shepherd Wellness is grateful for the support of the Delta Foundation to help underwrite our HIV/AIDS wellness classes.”

He added, “With this funding, a variety of classes and social support programs will be offered that will help to alleviate isolation and loneliness, provide a social support network, offer health information, and provide opportunities for our members to improve their physical fitness and strengthen their immune systems. The support of the Delta Foundation through Lambda Giving will make a significant difference in the lives of hundreds of men and women living with HIV/AIDS in our region.”

Several other organizations received money from the grant.

ALPHA, which stands for AIDS Leadership for Prevention and Health Awareness, was also one of the grant recipients. ALPHA Pittsburgh is a group of HIV+ men and their allies who are dedicated to increasing HIV/AIDS awareness in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The group strives to reduce stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS and empower the LGBT community to reduce homophobia and promote wellness. The grant will be used to send two delegates to the AIDSWatch conference held in Washington, D.C.

The Garden Of Peace Project is a community of LGBT folks and allies committed to encouraging community building, restoration, and outreach. Garden of Peace Project was founded to increase the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being of all people, including the most vulnerable and marginalized populations, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression of Southwestern Pennsylvania. The grant money will help to support the “Livin’ Out Loud” event featuring GLSEN, Willie Gee’s Fasion, and True T entertainment as partners, and STD and HIV testing, as well as professionals teaching individuals how to advocate for themselves.

Northside Common Ministries was established in 1982. They operate the Pleasant Valley Emergency Shelter for men, the Northside Community Food Pantry and a Permanent Housing Program for men with disabilities. They are one of the only shelters in the area that focuses on the inclusion of the LGBT community. The grant funding will be used to film and distribute a training module to comparable organizations for further education on meeting the needs of the LGBT community, particularly in shelters.

Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company was another grant recipient. The theater’s mission is to develop and showcase the work of local playwrights, from new talent to accomplished masters like August Wilson and George S. Kaufman. Mark Clayton Southers, director, playwright and founder of Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company, said, “The Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company is grateful for the support received from the Delta Foundation. These funds will be used for “Acting Out,” which produces LGBTthemed plays each year and gives local artists a chance to display their theatrical skills through storytelling.”

Other grantees include ALPHA Pittsburgh, Marc Wagner, Suzanne Kinsky, and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation who will use the funds to purchase rapid HIV testing for homeless youth and services for uninsured LGBT youth.

Applications for the second grant cycle round are due by August 1.

The Delta Foundation will also award the William Nist Scholarship to a high school senior or college student who has made a positive contribution toward the LGBT community. The application deadline for this scholarship is May 1.

Michael Buzzelli is a stand-up comedian and sit-down author. As a comedian, he has performed all around the country, most notably, the Ice House, the Comedy Store and the Improv in Los Angeles. As a writer, Michael Buzzelli has been published in a variety of websites, magazines and newspapers. He is a theater and arts critic for 'Burgh Vivant,’ Pittsburgh's online cultural talk magazine. He is also a Moth Grand Slam storyteller and actor. His books, "Below Average Genius," a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column in the Observer-Reporter, and his romantic comedy,  “All I Want for Christmas," are on sale at Amazon.com. He is working on a LGBTQ romantic comedy called, “Why I Hate My Friends.” You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. (He / Him / His)