Ren's Personal Fundraising Page
Hello to my dear friends and loved ones,
Thank you so much for visiting my personal fundraising page! Though most of you know that I have worked with the Carolina Youth Action Project for awhile, I’m not sure if you know why I care so deeply about this organization. As someone who grew up in a small, Southern town, I felt very isolated from my peers and a larger community along lines of race, gender, and sexuality. I believed that South Carolina was so backwards from everywhere else and that the racist, misogynistic, and queerphobic trauma I had inherited would disappear as soon as I left this state behind. I was determined to escape the South and do whatever it took to make that happen.
Then, during the summer of 2015, a close friend invited me to volunteer at CYAP’s summer rock camp, and even though I was living in Rock Hill at the time, this felt like something I needed to be a part of. So I packed my bags and headed to Charleston for a week, despite my boss at my restaurant job threatening to fire me for taking time off, and found an unexpected community of love and light in my own home state.
During that first experience with CYAP, I witnessed so much growth in the young people I was working with and in myself. At camp, everyone was asked to be brave, to be generous, to be powerful, to be thoughtful, to be creative, to take up space, to make space for others, to dream big, and to challenge everything we thought we knew. Five days of learning and unlearning around making music, building relationships, and deconstructing white supremacy and heteropatriarchy went by too fast.
What struck me most about that first experience with CYAP, and still feels so important today, is the commitment to building spaces for girls, trans youth, and gender nonconforming youth to heal and grow together. I often think about how radically different my life would have been if I had gotten to grow up in CYAP’s youth initiatives, if a whole group of people had validated me and told me that I deserved the respect and dignity I felt like I had been fighting for for so long. Would I still want to run away from the South?
Now, in my third year of working with CYAP, I feel so strong in my commitment to the South - because the Carolina Youth Action Project is doing the hard work of seeding possibilities of youth power, creative resistance, transformative justice, and collective liberation in South Carolina.
I know that the times we are living in are difficult and heartbreaking, causing so many of us to feel powerless. Today, I am inviting you to take the first step in doing something to change that by contributing to the Carolina Youth Action Project. Please donate and then reach out to learn about other ways to join us on this journey of building a new and brighter world for our young people, for ourselves, and for each other.
With love + gratitude,