116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The Tanager Place LGBTQ Youth Center is once again auctioning off holiday wreaths created by students and business owners in the community to benefit the center.
Wreaths created for the fundraiser — called “Tis’ the Season of Love” — can be seen and bid on online at tinyurl.com/TanagerPlacewreaths. Bidding closes Dec. 3.
Wreaths also can be seen at the center’s annual luncheon at Camp Tanager, 1614 W. Mount Vernon Road, Mount Vernon, Dec. 3, at 11 a.m. The event will educate community members about the center. The cost to attend this event is $30 per person or $200 per table of eight people. Register for the luncheon at tanagerplace.org/event/lgbtq-youth-center-luncheon.
Winning bidders will be contacted to arrange pickup or delivery of the wreath. Every wreath comes with a note about who made it and the meaning behind it. Some even come with gift cards.
The wreaths are varied in their decorations. One wreath is pink with the theme “Dolly Parton.” Another is based off the Marvel Comics Black Panther. There are traditional holiday wreaths and even a patriotic wreath decorated in red, white and blue.
There’s a science-themed wreath decorated with plastic microscopes, protective goggles, calculators and plastic dinosaurs. One wreath donated by Iowa Running Company in Cedar Rapids has a Brooks running shoe in the middle and a gift card to the store.
Acelynn Swiftbird, 17, a student at Metro High School, spray painted a wreath purple their her favorite color. Swiftbird began attending the LGBTQ Center in 2019. They — their pronouns — enjoy playing a fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons at the center.
All proceeds will go toward the center, which is planning to upgrade its space by creating a room dedicated to Dungeon & Dragons, a video game room complete with a virtual reality headset and upgrading its kitchen.
“People don’t realize just now marginalized LGBTQ+ youth are,” said Lori Ampey, director of the LGBTQ Youth Center. “Their right to be who they are and their safety is in jeopardy.”
The center is a place where every child can be themselves. It’s a “drama-free zone,” Ampey said. Ampey, who is gay, said she wishes she had something like it when she was younger.
“It makes me happy every day to see these kids have a safe place to go,” Ampey said. “A place where you don’t have to worry about what other people think about your pronouns or what you’re wearing. The center saves lives.”
Mars Zinski, 18, was the first person to donate financially to the center when it was just a concept. They — Zinski’s pronouns — were only 13 at the time. “This was a dream we all had. There are not a lot of queer spaces here for teens and kids,” they said.
The LGBTQ Youth Center is a safe and confidential place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth and allies. The center was launched in 2018 to be a place where youth and families could find support and be themselves.
The center meets weekly on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, very other Friday and every other Sunday afternoon at the Tanager Place Estle Center, 1030 Fifth Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids.
The center offers several support groups including a transgender support group and parent support group. It teaches skills including cooking, financial literacy and social skills.
For questions or more information about the LGBTQ Youth Center, contact Lori Ampey at email@example.com or by phone at (319) 777-8068.
Comments: (319) 398-8411; firstname.lastname@example.org