This February, it is our honor to highlight major donors Rich Gottwald and Jim Harden.
Rich and Jim are dedicated supporters of SMYAL who have watched the organization grow and expand over the years. Rich previously served on SMYAL’s Board of Directors as the Board Treasurer.
What brought you to SMYAL?
Ever since we moved to Washington years ago, SMYAL has been a strong presence in the community. The organization resonated with us – as it may with many gay people – because it reaches out with support and programs when youth most need it – in their teens. We all know what that time was like.
What about the organization inspired you to become major donors?
When we began attending SMYAL events – particularly the annual Brunch – we were able to see the youth and hear them tell their compelling stories. Talk about inspiring! We knew we just had to support SMYAL in any way we could.
Rich, as a former member of the SMYAL Board of Directors, how have you seen the organization grow and evolve over the years?
SMYAL has blossomed since we first became involved. No longer is it focused simply on being a support group – which is still incredibly important, by the way – but SMYAL now focuses on so much more. Training LGBTQ youth to be community leaders; providing housing for homeless and at-risk youth; and reaching into and supporting the trans community. Each of these programs is so important and so necessary.
How are you staying connected to community and the causes that matter to you through the pandemic?
There is no doubt it is more difficult to stay connected. But we are doing our best through virtual events. We also make a point of seeing a small group of friends in socially distant settings where we can catch up on all things DC!
What are you looking forward to in 2021?
- The end of the pandemic.
- Seeing our friends and family again.
- The SMYAL Brunch!