Lulu's Lodge relying on community to help fund new home for LGBTQS+ youth
REGINA -- Lulu’s Lodge is launching a new capital campaign in hopes of raising $100,000 for its new home to protect LGBTQ2S+ youth who are facing homelessness.
The new five bedroom home will provide youth aged 16-21 a place to stay when they have no where else to go. They will also have access to a mentor who provides guidance on education, physical health, mental wellness, family reunification, legal matters and advocacy.
The John Howard Society of Saskatchewan (JHSS) was able to purchase the home with the help of the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation, but because it has no government funding for programs, it is relying on the community to fund the rest of the mortgage.
“Many of our youth have been rejected by their families and are living in unsafe situations so Lulu’s provides that sense of community for them,” Tanna Young, the director of social programs with the JHSS, said. “It’s been the work of the community that has kept the doors open. This campaign will ensure that we keep the costs of the home down so we can continue to provide those supports.”
Terry Van Mackelberg, a frequent fundraiser host and advocate for Lulu’s Lodge, said the pandemic has made it hard for youth who visit the home and for fundraising efforts.
“For a lot of LGBTQ people who may not be safe in the home that they’re in, the pandemic has forced them to have to self isolate in the homes that may not be safe,” he said.
Van Mackelberg is well known in the community for his drag queen persona Flo Mingo. Before the pandemic, he hosted monthly shows as fundraisers for Lulu’s Lodge called The Sweet and Sticky Show.
“All the funds have to be raised through the community,” he said. “Since the pandemic, we haven’t been able to come together so it’s been a little bit tricky trying to raise money for this home to keep the doors open.”
The JHSS said the need for the home is evident and that’s why it’s crucial to raise this money.
“Pre COVID-19, we were experiencing actually quite a few people on a waitlist because there’s no time limit set for the residents who live there,” Young said. She said people sometimes people stay for weeks or months, while others stay for years.
“Since we opened we’ve had a houseful and it’s been a consistent level of occupancy. We’re operating at a 90 per cent occupancy right, so it’s really high.”
There are a number of ways the public can contribute including hosting a fundraiser, becoming a sponsor or donating on the JHSS website.