You have surely heard about the story of a small business in Indiana, named Memories Pizza on the Rachel Maddow show, or wherever you get your news, if not Facebook. The owners made it clear to the media that they supported the new “Religious Freedom” bill because they would never cater a gay wedding. Apparently serving pizza is big at gay weddings in Indiana. Who knew? Thanks to Fox News and a staff member from Glenn Becks show, an online fundraiser netted almost $850,000 in just five days to “support” the owners of the pizza shop. The gofundme page goal was “only” $200K. They have since closed their business and disappeared. Funny, that.
OK, that’s the background. You can google it if you want to know more.
Enter Planting Peace, the all volunteer (as far as I can tell) non-profit organization that purchased and painted the Equality House in Topeka. You know, the rainbow colored house across the street from Fred Phelp’s Westboro Baptist Church.
Planting Peace is a rather eclectic entity. They also fund orphanages around the world and run deworming programs in countries where parasitical worms are endemic. It is not a gay specific organization, but obviously they consider homophobia to be about a big a scourge on the planet as intestinal worms and being orphaned. My kind of folk.
So… Planting Peace started a campaign to raise $100,000 to shelter homeless LGBTQ folk. That’s half of the amount of the original Memories Pizza campaign, and a small fraction of what the haters raised to benefit a single family! So far, about $40K has been raised, and it seems to accumulating at a glacial pace, though I realize that’s probably just my personal perspective.
Here’s the kicker, imho. A major donor has stepped forward and offered to provide 100 hotel rooms for a year to shelter LGBTQ homeless folks if Planting Peace meets their fundraising goal! If I can still operate a calculator, that means this campaign can shelter far more people in need than it possibly could if it had to rent space or build a shelter somewhere. It also means they might be able to help homeless youth and others in place like Colby, Kansas, or Eureka Springs, Arkansas as easily as they could in New York City or LA. I admit I don’t know the details of the commitment, but the point is they should have great flexibility in delivering on their commitment.
In any event, the number is: $2.75 per night to shelter a queer homeless person! For the price of a pizza, a donation to the ‘virtual pizza’ campaign could provide shelter for three or four nights! By any measure I can think of, that is an incredible return on investment.
I keep asking myself what does it mean when “they” can raise nearly a million dollars in a few days for an anti-gay cause that benefits only one family, while the LGBTQ community and our allies have to beg and scrap to raise an obviously modest amount of money, when considered in the bigger picture.
I am also wondering why no one with a media presence and stature comparable to Glenn Becks has stepped up to champion this initiative. Some of the names that come to mind are: Rachel Maddow, Ricky Martin, Ellen Degeneres or George Takei.
Michael and I originally pitched in the minimum $10 donation. As I looked into Planting Peace more closely and saw what the potential was, I joined the fundraiser as a “partner”, increased our donation to $100 and pledged to try to raise a total of $1000 from friends, family and acquaintances.
So far, our partner page has raised $245 of the $1000 pledged.
Here are some of the points I’ve tried to make on Facebook. Area homeless shelters, at least in Kansas City, are operated by religious based entities like Salvation Army or City Union Mission (CUM). These groups claim to not discriminate, but their record shows that they proselytize and harass clients perceived to be gay. They have a nearly zero tolerance policy towards transgendered people.
I won’t go on much longer. I hope you take some time to do your own research into the matter. Michael and I don’t make enough money to give a lot of bucks to a lot of charities, but this one is a no-brainer for us. Unlike our national gay organizations (who have been silent about this issue), Planting Peace operates with almost no overhead. Most of our money actually goes to services. Their financial reports (IRS 990s) are available at Guidestar under their original incorporation name of Awake. I’ve checked them and they are current, which is more than I can say about some 501(c)3s I know about.
There are some links below if you are willing or interested in helping reach our goal, or just want to read more. My Facebook page is completely open, so I think it can be accessed without joining FB. There are several posts there about why I’m so committed to this campaign, including stories of some of the queer street urchins we have taken in over the years. We know first hand some of the issues our youth face when they get kicked out of their homes.
Thanks for your time and patience reading all this.
You can click “Planting Peace” on our partner page to see the main fundraising page. You can also donate from that page, though it won’t count towards our personal pledge)