A group of volunteers who raise money and awareness for LGBTQ organizations on and around Vancouver Island are nearing the close of their first year.
Island Queers and Allies Who Care started as a “kitchen table conversation” between mostly retired educators, all political and social justice activists, who wanted to continue having a positive impact in the community.
“It’s just a continuation of who we are as people,” said James Chamberlain, IQAWC president. “We had a conversation as a board about the importance of allies to be able to contribute and for them to learn about the fact that we exist and that we’re not an exclusive club. We want anybody to be able to participate and we know that there are a lot of allies out there.”
The current board wanted to provide a low-barrier opportunity for Island LGBTQ organizations to apply – one that wasn’t onerous on donors either. Chamberlain said the decision to do so was not difficult since they saw a disconnect of available support for such organizations when compared to the Lower Mainland.
Since its inception last June, IQAWC has donated $10,660 to three groups: the Gender Generations Project in Victoria, the Diverse and Inclusive Salt Spring Island organization, and Lake Park Society’s Camp Kin in Cumberland.
“It’s exciting to be able to help groups that are starting from scratch or wanting to grow or thrive,” the president said.
In the first year, Chamberlain said they averaged roughly 20-25 donors per quarter, and since transparency is key, each applicant’s submission is visible for every donor before votes are cast.
IQAWC is preparing for their next round which will be open to applicants from May 15 until June 15, with the money being awarded early July.
“I dream we could raise $10,000 per quarter one day … as that amount could take things to the next level for any organization,” Chamberlain said.
Recently the group implemented an annual $10 membership fee to help to cover web hosting and bank fees, since 100 per cent of donations are given directly to the cause.
Further information about Island Queers and Allies Who Care can be found at www.islandqueers.ca.