Dear Friends, Family and Colleagues,
When I was a senior in high school (same time in my life when this charming picture was snapped), I was really struggling with my identity and struggling to find my place in the world. I didn't feel comfortable being the person that I knew I was. All of my older friends had graduated, so I was a bit of a loaner. I would spend my lunches and study halls in the library, doing work or exhausting the volumes of VHS documentary movies in the little back storage room. I had little self esteem and no direction in life.
It all changed when Tracey Snow came into the picture. Mrs. Snow was the new librarian that year. She brought a love of education and a giant heart to the job. She paid special attention to me, but I also saw her take special care of other students who - in hind sight - might have needed it even more than I did at the time. Throughout that year, she coached me into studying harder and thinking about what my next steps would be in life, following high school. At the time, my prospects for college were bleak. Finally, Mrs. Snow said, "Abbott, we have to get you placement for the Fall."
After much application mailing and essay writing, we did it! I would have never started, much less completed the process if it weren't for the encouragement Mrs. Snow gave to me. Now, I really know how much that pivotal series of events shaped my life for the better. Even at the time, I innately knew that getting into college was an essential event. It represented not only a future, but freedom to reinvent myself, freed from the peer pressures of k-12 education.
Within a month of graduating, I was out of the closet. Mrs. Snow was one of the first people to whom I was able to come out. Of course, she affirmed me with open arms. Even writing about it now, I get a little choked-up with gratitude. Her support and acceptance made a major difference in my life.
I see Mrs. Snow every time I look at Melissa Murray, Executive Director of Outright Vermont. She brings the "giant heart" management model to Outright, looking after every GLBTQ youth the crosses paths with the organization. I've seen it in the caring way she nurtures the teens at Outright Summer Camp. I feel her warmth and the warmth of the staff - even towards us GLBTQ adults! - at all of the outright events we attend.
Today, I ask you to support me in raising money for Outright Vermont, so as many GLBTQ youths as possible are offered the chance to SURVIVE AND THRIVE - just like I was. Please support me in supporting Melissa and Outright in the wonderful work that they do to serve as a community and a life line to this marginalized group of young people. Every donation could literally be the extra dollar that propels the organization forward and saves the life of one gay youth. Donate any amount that you can now!
For that I thank you with love,
Ps Come watch us pull a fire truck up Chruch Street at the main event in Burlington this Saturday at 12:00, noon!