Pocatello youth center provides safe space “All Under One Roof”

youth

What started out  as an idea to give teens a “safe place” in Pocatello has turned into a popular hangout for LGBTQ youth.

Founded a little over a year ago, the “All Under One Roof LGBT Center” was started by a group of concerned residents who realized that gay teens had no place to call their own.

That idea has taken on a life of its own. The center, which has its very own room inside Pocatello’s popular Main Street Coffee and News, has become known around the community as the place for LGBTQ youth to be on Tuesday nights.

Executive Director Tom Nestor says he got involved with the project because he knows first hand what it’s like to be a gay teen in rural Idaho,”During my school years there where a lot of very long unhappy days. During my four years of high school which I hated, I was pushed against the lockers, tripped in the hallways called faggot at that time I finally knew the meaning of my feelings; I am Gay.”

Nestor says though times and terms have changed, the actions and the pain are still the same,” That was 40 years ago, you would of thought things would of change by now, the only thing that has change is the meaning of my unusual feeling; they are now identify as gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual or queer. The pain my classmates showed me is now known as bullying.”

“It is important that those of us who have been there or know people who have been there to support the current generation of Pocatello and surrounding area youth, by creating and managing empowering programs that will help them grow into healthy and confident adults,” he says.

The organization has a lofty vision when it comes to the areas it wants to focus on. The list includes youth support, parent/family support, leadership development, life skills, LGBTQ community support, health, wellness, STI education and HIV testing, drug and alcohol therapy, community education/outreach programs and anti-bullying education.

Recent group activities have included a free screening of the academy award winning, “Milk”, several art projects and most recently a Valentines day cookie party.  The activities themselves though pale in comparison to the friendships and mentoring the kids experience at the center.

Nestor says the organization is also considering opening the center up to the older crowd as well, “We would like to start having a group for those who are over 35 years old. A space where you can meet others in the LGBT community, have fun and get to know each other.”

Of course, like any organization, the volunteers at “Under One Roof” can’t do it all alone. They could use some help. Nestor says the organization can always use volunteers, donations, as well as help from those interested in simply helping to get the word out about the organization and its events .

“We just want the kids to know that they aren’t alone and that they have a safe space where they can be themselves” Nestor says. “Those are our main objectives.”

“All Under One Roof” is open every Tuesday afternoon and evening from 4:30-6:30 pm. It’s located at 234 N. Main Street, in Pocatello.

You can learn more by visiting the “All Under One Roof” website HERE.

You can also keep up with the organization on its facebook page HERE.

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