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M E N T A L L G B T

S E R V I C E S

RECLAIM Staff

Volunteer Edition 2011

Director’s Notes
Janet Bystrom, MSW, LICSW Director / Therapist

N O V M E B E R

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Nicholas Metcalf, MSW Development Director

Anna Stern, MSW Intern

At RECLAIM, we believe that each person who comes through the door, client, volunteer or staff person alike, is capable of both transforming and being and being transformed through our relationships with one another. We also believe that there is no distinction between the act of giving and receiving and that participation in this process is fundamental to our well-being. This newsletter is dedicated to the incredible volunteers who participate in this active transformation of self and other each and every day at RECLAIM. We hope that reading what they have shared about the gift of giving will lift your hearts and inspire you to give in whatever way you are able, to the things that have meaning in your life.

Nikhil Kaistha, LPC Intern

Support RECLAIM: Upcoming Event

Advisory Board Members

Gilbert Achay Roxanne Anderson
What is Give to the Max Day? Give to the Max Day is a day for Minnesotans to come together to raise as much money as possible for nonprofits in 24 hours – starting at midnight on November 16 through midnight on November 17. By engaging as many donors as possible to give to their favorite Minnesota charities in one day – Give to the Max Day — GiveMN.org is showcasing Minnesota’s unparalleled generosity to the world! What is GiveMN? GiveMN is a collaborative venture to transform philanthropy in Minnesota by growing overall giving and moving more of it online. GiveMN is an independent 501(c) (3) supporting organization of the Minnesota Community Foundation. Through its engaging web platform launched in November 2009, GiveMN helps nonprofit organizations of all sizes reach new donors, increases giving through fun and engaging campaigns and significantly reduces overall fundraising costs. GiveMN helps individuals find, learn and contribute to Minnesota and national programs, facilitates quick and easy online donations by credit card and organizes online charitable contributions in one location. TO DONATE ON NOVEMBER 16, VISIT givemn.razoo.com/story/Reclaim-35

MJ Gilbert, MSW, LICSW Val Smith

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Office Support Volunteer/ Integrative Health Services Co-coordinator
I have been volunteering at RECLAIM for over a year, doing office support work, and more recently, also co-coordinating IHS. Volunteering at RECLAIM has offered me a profound opportunity to work in small ways to create the world I would like to see become. My experience here has been that there is a commitment to working together to transform oppressive dynamics at all levels. It is a place of possibility, where different ways of being and working with each other can be found and practiced. I experience agency and respect and am offered the opportunity to not only contribute but to truly participate. Rather than expecting people doing work with RECLAIM to conform to what is already there, there is an openness to each person contributing their unique gifts to shape and create RECLAIM - finding the place where this meets with the organization’s needs, and also maintaining a clear commitment to the vision of RECLAIM. I am deeply grateful for a place to do work that is meaningful to me. I hope that through RECLAIM's work space continues to be opened up for people, and that more and more healing connections of all kinds are formed.

Dana

Integrative Health Services Co-Coordinator
Name: Moe Volunteer Activity: IHS Coordination How long? since early Spring of 2011 What are you reclaiming through your volunteer work? I am reclaiming strength and empowerment in client/provider relationships. How has this connection/experience impacted you? My relationship to Reclaim fuels my sense of hope.

Mondy

What compels you to contribute? My own experiences as a trans person trying to access healthcare have pushed me to shift the way power and oppression play out in client/provider relationships. What do you hope your contribution makes possible for others? I hope trans and queer youth find relationships and space at Reclaim to heal.

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Integrative Health Service Volunteers
I offer chiropractic and nutrition consultations for the youth, and also provide personal training. I have been working with RECLAIM since the beginning of the Integrative Health Service about three years ago. Through my work, I am reclaiming wholeness and health. Every time I work with one of the youth, whether it's someone questioning their gender, or transitioning from female to male or male to female, I am impacted, because I did not have these types of services available to me when I transitioned. It impacts me on many levels, emotionally spiritually and physically to be a conduit for their health, and enable them to make different choices for themselves as far as their healthcare. When I was transitioning, I would have loved to have someone say "you're okay, you're whole, you get to have hands on chiropractic treatment to not only align your spine, but align your self actualization." Every time I work with someone it reminds me to not forget where I've come from, and also to make a difference in their life as a trans person. I was going to live my life stealth, and mostly I do. But, I saw the need that trans people don't really have a lot of options to get holistic healthcare. Western medicine gives a hormone or surgery, but they don't talk about whole body health. The need for that compelled me, and I knew that it wasn't available. When trans people go for treatment, for chiropractic at other places, and the chiropractors do hands on treatment on their backs, they can feel they don't get it. When they come to me they don't have to worry because I see them the way they are. They can come and tell me any of their problems and know I will have a solution for them. My contribution makes it possible for others not to be in pain or discomfort. This contribution is on many levels: body, mind, spirit. It is also powerful for them to see an adult trans man be successful in their life and know that they can have that too. I have had several of the youth tear up because they thought they'd always have to be in pain, they didn't know where to go, and had a lot of shame and body hatred. Now they have a place to go for that, to be helped.

Jacob Kiakahi
I've been providing Reconnective Therapy, Classical Homeopathy, and teaching EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) at RECLAIM for about six months. By doing so, it feels like I am reclaiming an opportunity to help others. It also feels like I am reclaiming aspects of my own life history through my experiences of working with the youth served by RECLAIM. Using the life experiences that I've had to be of assistance to other people provides me with a concrete experience of the reality that we are all connected to each other that we share one heart and one world, and reminds me that the more I can have a concrete lived experience of that reality, the more fully alive and fully human I feel myself to be. It has been very powerful for me to witness, from the perspective offered to me by volunteering at RECLAIM, how much positive change there has been in the past twenty or thirty years for young GLBT people. What compels me to contribute? Being asked. For me, asking for help is a sacred act, and if I am able to sincerely answer that request, I am honoring what is sacred in the relationship between any two people. I hope to play a role in the continuous process of another person remembering who they are, in order that we both might experience in ourselves an unshakable foundation on which to build joyful and loving lives.

Rhys Preston

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Integrative Health Service Volunteers
I have been leading mindfulness and insightbased meditation at RECLAIM since January 2011. In meditation, we work with all that arises or is experienced on an emotional, mental, physical and spiritual level--both the challenges and difficulties as well as the positives and strengths we possess. Meditation offers us ways to be present to this moment, to find a sense of inner peace and to work with our challenges and cultivate our positive qualities. Through this work, I reclaim my own sense of authenticity and selfexpression. I offer meditation as a space for others to claim their identity and be wholeheartedly who they are. Claiming and reclaiming is like a composting process--it is ongoing, and who we are and are becoming impacts our world because we are all interconnected. For myself, I am reclaiming a larger and deeper sense of my own identity around gender and sexual orientation and all of living.

Christy Lillibridge
I have been volunteering at RECLAIM as an acupuncturist for about three years--since the beginning. I am reclaiming giving back to the community. I came to RECLAIM because I was able to have a mentor when I was younger, and it made a huge difference in the emotional aspect of my life. This work gives me a fresh perspective on where folks are coming from. It allows me to work with folks who have different perspectives and are living in different times. It gives me perspective on how the world is changing, and also the similarities, the thread that runs through it. I hope that the people I work with will gain a sense of empowerment in a healing situation and they can use their power and voice to create how the appointment goes and gain the most out of it.

Stacy Husebo

To be able to work in the way that I get to work at RECLAIM is an empowering and humanizing experience. I don’t feel like I have to cut off any part of who I am, and I hope that the people who come through the doors don’t feel like they have to cut off any part of who they are. It’s inspiring to see all of the diversity of challenges and diversity of strengths that people bring from their experiences and their lives. This work is compelling because it is a generative process. It's not a one-way thing, but a nourishing experience for everyone involved. Through meditation, I hope that people develop a deeper ability and capacity to know and accept themselves, to be in relationship with others, and to integrate their own experiences. I hope that this connection has a ripple effect, compelling them to give back and contribute to other people and our world. I also hope that people can connect with a greater sense of curiosity and joy in their lives. Thanks!

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Volunteer Therapist
Alex Iantaffi
I have been volunteering at RECLAIM for about three months by providing mental health services as a licensed therapist. Through my volunteer work, I am reclaiming the possibility of making a positive difference for my community. I feel like my work with RECLAIM allows me to stay connected with younger members of my community, and to broaden my understanding of the community beyond my own individual identity and experiences. I feel really grateful to be able to use some of my privilege in service to the community. I hope that my contribution helps to increase the well being of my communities, especially for younger community members.

Volunteer Group Facilitator
Qamar Saadiq Saoud :
New Support Group Facilitator
I co-facilitate the Gender Exploration Group, and I’ve been doing that for about five months. I am reclaiming a communal sense of mindfulness and consciousness toward mental health. This has made a huge impact on my life. I was one of the early attendees of the Gender Exploration group when it started, before RECLAIM had a home. It’s a profound honor for me to be cofacilitating the group now, in this space, with Janet. I am motivated by my love of volunteering in and working in this capacity with GLBT youth. It’s coming full circle for me to serve the group that I used to be a part of. I hope that my connection here provides people with comfort and a sounding board to bounce their reflection off of, and I hope I can contribute some excellent stories that show people ways they can implement different tools in their lives. A youth talked with me about their relationship with their grandmother, and how she had been an anchor in their family when everything was caught up in the storm. That hit home for me and helped me connect with the youth on a larger scale, because I had a similar background.

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Volunteer Group Facilitator
Katie Burgess
I have been co-facilitating the Families Group, a peer-led support group for trans youth and their families, at RECLAIM for about half a year. Prior to that, I was a volunteer and a donor, and prior to that I was a client and a community member who assisted in whatever ways I could in the formation of RECLAIM. I am reclaiming so many different things through my work, and they change every day. I continue to reclaim my body. Spiritually and emotionally, and in community with other people doing the same work, I’m reclaiming my community, what it means for me to be an activist, to be healthy, to feel fulfilled, and have a purpose and a place in this universe. You know, the little things. I wouldn’t be alive today without RECLAIM. It’s what gave me a foundation of mental health support that I was able to carry into the rest of my life, and that allowed me to be successful on my own terms. Being a part of this community feeds my sense of purpose, of family, and of belonging. It satisfies my blue collar New England work ethic that says you must give back--RECLAIM saved my life, and now I have to save RECLAIM’S life. But more importantly it feeds my sense of belonging and knowing that I’m a part of something that is cyclical. I get and then I give. With RECLAIM, I’ve always felt I was in a position of both receiving and giving, and that those two things were very linked. It’s not like showing up at a food shelf on Tuesday and getting a bag of groceries and then going back on Thursday to work behind the counter. There is no separation like that. The getting is the giving. RECLAIM is the most profound sense of family that I have in my life, at least locally. Both personally and professionally I get to see the lives of young trans women changing their lives in community with RECLAIM in ways that I can relate to, and ways that I saw myself make changes to my life in community with RECLAIM. That’s powerful for me. I hope that my contribution gives others a sense of place. You belong here, you have a real purpose in this universe. You have a family. I know that won’t be the case for everybody, and I don’t want everyone calling Janet mommy. What I mean by family is more a sense of purpose and belonging. In the smaller picture I hope the people who come to RECLAIM are able to reclaim their basic mental health. Everywhere I go in my life, I’ve seen people meet with huge barriers based on their mental health. When people are able to have support to have mental health on their own terms, then I see people moving those enormous barriers, the same way I moved mine. Nothing was going anywhere

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Advisory Board
I have been on the Advisory Board of RECLAIM, and have been since shortly after the organization came into existence. I think the first time it came into focus that I was trans, it was about 1970. I had nothing. There was no resource. I could not be out, or open, with any other human being on earth. What I was dealing with felt impossible, shameful, and dark--it was unthinkable. If I had told my parents the best I could have hoped for was to be forced into therapy that would have been punishing. My stake in this is really personal. It's about making things different for other people, and through that, reaching back and making some repairs in my own life, and my own brokenness. What brought me into supporting RECLAIM was hearing Janet talk about how she didn’t just want to provide queer youth with resources so that they can survive in a broken world. The goal of RECLAIM is to fix a broken world so that it is less hurtful to the people that have to live in it. I am calling on people to step up and support RECLAIM with their hands and their hearts and their wallets because our world is not yet repaired. Our youth are in pain, and are too alone. It’s not okay for us to say that it gets better at some point. It has to be better now. Those of us who survived the brutality of our youths can say that young people will survive the brutality of their youths too, but that’s not enough. Youth needs to be less brutal for our sons and daughters, nieces and nephews. These are the people who will thank us or curse us. We all benefit from this work. I benefit when they break open the boxes I was told I had to live in. I am freer and more gender nonconforming at 53 than I ever could have imagined being at 33, because youth has shoved queer identity into some directions that my generation did not, and from which I benefit. I owe the youth because they make me freer. I want RECLAIM to become stable and last a long time, with the support and strength of many people. I don’t want it just to be something that exists because of the incredible passion of one person on who’s shoulders we all stand.

MJ Gilbert

I’ve been on the Advisory Board at RECLAIM for about a year and a half. I got involved because I believe that youth should have the experience of connecting with people who understand their specific needs. As a youth worker, I recently had a client who committed a crime and got a lawyer. When the lawyer was first assigned, I explained that my client was transgender and the lawyer looked at me and said “what is that?” That happens too often with different agencies. At RECLAIM youth who identify as LGBT can get resources from a place that understands exactly where they’re coming from, where they can feel comfortable, express themselves, and in turn learn how to heal. My connection with RECLAIM has been powerful for me. I have worked with Janet for many years, and I believe in the work that she does. I would like my contribution for RECLAIM to be a support so it can continue to sustain itself and grow.

Val Smith

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Advisory Board
I am on the Advisory Team for RECLAIM, and I have been since it started. I’m reclaiming culturally competent mental health care for young people. Mine got squashed when I was young, and I put time and energy into RECLAIM because I know that the young people that go there get heard and get the things they are supposed to get when they connect with someone around mental health matters. They don’t get some creepy old guy doodling on a notepad. I started referring young people to Janet before I even met her, because of what other young people said that she did for them. I never worry, ever, about referring anybody to RECLAIM. At some other agencies, the agency might be great, but I am going to be very specific about who the person talks to. At RECLAIM I know that anybody who might answer the phone will be a good first contact, and won’t offend anybody. I hope that young people walk away from RECLAIM with a sense of self, and with intact beings. I hope that they get to experience connecting with themselves like they never have before, and that the impact that they have at RECLAIM affects them for their life, in all the relationships that they make.

Roxanne Anderson

Fundraising Volunteer
I have been volunteering with RECLAIM for about a year and a half doing administrative assistance. By volunteering I am reclaiming community in a new place. My work with RECLAIM has given me a sense of community and connection. I contribute so that there will be a space that exists like this. It’s my way of giving back for all the spaces I have been able to have access to over the years as a queer person. I hope that my contribution can ensure a safe space, and a group of people the youth can talk to and relate to.

DRAKE

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Volunteer We Love to Remember
After 10 years of co-facilitating the Gender Exploration Group with Janet Bystrom. Alex recently moved to Washington, DC. We celebrated his decade long contribution in June 2011 at the Exchange. He wanted to leave a message prior to his departure about RECLAIM and it’s impact. Here is what he writes:

I have been involved as a volunteer with Reclaim since the door of that lovely space in Uptown opened 2 years ago. As a co-facilitator of the Gender Exploration group, I was thrilled to see the new office…much more of a shared community space than a stanch therapist’s office. I can see that youth feel a sense of belonging, responsibility and dignity when walking through the doors of Reclaim. Nine and a-half years ago, when I was working as a street-based outreach worker for homeless youth Janet asked me to help her start a group that focused on supporting Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming young people. From that day forward, I have spent nearly every Thursday night for the last nine and a half years with Janet, in a room full of comfy chairs, surrounded by amazingly resilient youth. My goal has been to support them in their search for authenticity…finding their authentic selves in relationship to gender identity. Most youth I have gotten to know through the Gender Exploration group are quick to find themselves and their gender identity but spend much time convincing and encouraging others to see and acknowledge them as their authentic selves. Most of the support I have offered has revolved around the challenges youth face with family, friends, co-workers and larger systematic barriers that refuse to recognize the complexity of gender identity. Specifically for those who do not fit within the culturally defined gender binary. I write this as I prepare to leave Minneapolis and move to the Washington DC area. The Minneapolis LGBT community has much to offer and has treated me well for many years: as a community member, a client receiving services and as a youth service provider… I call Minneapolis home. The Gender Exploration group and Reclaim is called home by many young people and as a volunteer and group facilitator, I share that sense of belonging and will miss it terribly. My life’s work has been inspired by the resiliency, compassion and solidarity I have been privileged enough to share with the youth whom I have met through Reclaim. The commitment that I have witnessed group members make week after week over the last 9 and a-half years has been a resounding commitment to authenticity...to youth being themselves, regardless of how challenging, painful, costly and exhausting. I have witnessed youth grow into themselves with a fierceness that is indescribable. A fierceness that has inspired me weekly for nearly a decade! These youth have all become a part of me...of who I am, what I stand for and the belief I have in the world and in our community. From my filled up heart and my forever-inspired soul, thank you Reclaim for the daily support you give young people to meet these challenges and for allowing me to be a part of such a powerful journey for so many youth over the years. -Alex Jackson Nelson

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Thank You!
RECLAIM owes much of its success to the dedication of volunteers who have contributed literally hundreds of hours of support. We wish to highlight some people who have made significant contributions and deeply regret any oversights!

RECLAIM Services
Individual and Family Therapy
Services are provided by a licensed mental health professional. These sessions are available to clients regardless of their ability to pay. Effective integration of sexual orientation and gender identity is critical to accomplish successful transition from adolescence to adulthood; this is the focus of most individual and family sessions.

Support Groups
There are two support groups, the Gender Exploration Group and RECLAIM Families. Group is a place where young people can articulate their hopes and fears and encourage one another to find the strength to live their lives with authenticity and power.

Volunteers
Katie Burgess Terry Dickelman Florence Dillon Dana Jeffries Marcy Micek Jennifer Mouchet Alex Iantaffi Alex Jackson Nelson Moe Norton-Westbook Drake Oakley Qamar Saadiq-Saoud Alex Younger

74% of clients report having been harassed due to perceived sexual orientation or gender expression

Integrative Health Services Continues...
In 2011, these volunteers have provided in excess of 75 individual and group support sessions to RECLAIM Clients. The program is currently being co-led by Moe Norton-Westbrook, Dana Jeffries and Janet Bystrom.

Dr. Rhys Preston

Christy Lillibridge
Acupuncture

List of I.H.S Providers

Funders
AHS Foundation Charter Oak Foundation Sisters of St. Joseph Rainbow Health Initiative

56% are uninsured
39% of clients have used IHS

Chiropractic / Nutritional Wellness

Maryrose Dolezal
Global Somatics

Stacy Husebo
Meditation

Special Thanks
RARE Productions for framing our beautiful youth artwork

40% are current smokers

Jake Kiakahi
RCT/EFT/ Homeopathy

Amelia Smith
Yoga

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