The hug that SQSH brings to mind is a literal one: the organization uses a wholistic model to honor everyone's lived experiences and assume callers are the experts of their own lives, ensuring that each call is caller-led and packed with peer support, whether that means just listening and affirming the caller or assisting the caller with resources and safety planning. This "wraparound" approach is designed to fully support the caller in all areas and feel like a SQSH! It also means that SQSH doesn't just serve queer folks; it's also made up of the community. Members of SQSH are encouraged to call for support, too.
In addition to honoring lived experiences, SQSH is also rooted in cultural humility and structural competency, revolutionary concepts within the nonprofit world. There's no "end" to learning about oppression or equity and inclusion training. SQSH sees them as a lifelong process that we all must engage in to meet SQSH's mission--to provide an empathetic ear, safe resources and advocacy for LGBTQIA+ folks. SQSH is an invaluable community resource with a unique model that centers on inclusivity, diversity, identity affirmation and dismantling oppression.
The prioritization of volunteer self-care--not just to prevent burnout but to truly value each individual--is yet another way that SQSH stands out from other nonprofits. SQSH doesn't just actively make wellbeing a big part of volunteer training, either. Volunteers are engaged in every facet of SQSH, from steering and daily operations to the development of curriculum. SQSH's Board is even nontraditional and made up of volunteers elected not by their political pull or pocketbooks but by their experiences and passion for the organization. When you volunteer with SQSH, you're not going to be a coffee runner. You're going to engage in meaningful work that aligns with your own interests and goals.
SQSH's training programs are some of the most engaging and helpful classes I've ever attended. They are highly interactive, and facilitators check in with students, assess their needs, and make it as inclusive as possible. Learners are involved every step of the way. Classrooms across the globe are already evolving to become more inclusive and web-based, and if they adopted the SQSH model many more people would be able to benefit from an inclusive education from home. The material is incredibly important and beneficial for any profession. The St. Louis County Library has recognized this and held multiple SQSH classes via Zoom.
With your help, SQSH can continue providing spaces and support for queer St. Louisans to thrive and expand upon services, reaching more people by more inclusive means, such as via texting and multiple language options. Donations help SQSH train more volunteers and teach more citizens about mental health, addressing bias and racism, being a queer ally, active listening and so much more. This work is transformative, powerful, and so very, very necessary. Please give to SQSH, share this campaign, and definitely share SQSH's services with anyone you know who could use an affirming ear. Give SQSH a call and you'll see why everyone could really use a SQSH!