Ogden OUTreach is working to better the Ogden community as a whole by providing information, programs and support to LGBTQ youth ages 14-23 to help them build happy, healthy lives, and its influence is reaching far beyond its target group.
“OUTreach provides low-cost/free diversity training, as well as resources for community groups, churches, businesses, law enforcement, schools and individuals from all over,” said Marian Edmonds, the executive director of the OUTreach Resource Center. “A large part of what we do is changing the culture of Utah, and we welcome any opportunity to share information and resources about how to understand LGBT youth and adults, youth homelessness, bullying and suicide.”
The center, located at 705 23rd St. in Ogden, hosts community events each month that focus on hot-button topics. This month’s event will include a panel discussion on the new Utah law mandating parental notification of all certain incidents and threats. The panel includes bullied youth and their parents discussing family support.
Ogden OUTreach will also take part in the Affirmation Conference in Salt Lake City (a conference by and for gay Mormons), packaging supplies for homeless youth. In the past year, OUTreach worked with Mormons Building Bridges to start the Safe and Sound Host Home Program to prevent youth from becoming homeless and experiencing exploitation from survival sex.
Austin Miller-Anderson, a journalism major at WSU and assistant to Edmonds, said he believes Ogden OUTreach contributes positively to the Ogden community as a whole.
“Just the title of our wonderful organization tells it all,” he said. “We aren’t just called OUTreach to have a name that is tied with the gay community. We are called Ogden OUTreach because we reach out to every person of every kind. I think that we are an amazing force to the community. I don’t want to give out too much info, but I would definitely say that OUTreach is going to be a much bigger and greater force in the coming time.”
The center serves close to 350 youth from around Utah and provides classes, programs, workshops and free professional counseling. It also offers supplies and food for homeless youth, employment and educational support, and adult mentors.
“The majority of LGBT youth don’t know one supportive adult,” Edmonds said. “OUTreach changes that and works to save lives.”
LGBTQ advocate Karlee Berezay said she believes Ogden OUTreach is a good resource for LGBTQ youth, as well as anyone looking for more information.
“They would never refuse anybody for information,” Berezay said. “All of the people who run it or are involved with it are well equipped with information for kids. They gave a lot of resources out to people; they were really motivational, really good at kind of trying to keep kids in a place where they can be themselves, but also learn — and grow up, but not have to grow up too fast.”
Edmonds said that ideally, WSU students and faculty would be willing to lend their presence to the center.
“Only 1 in 10 LGBT youth attend college — making it through the day or the week is tough enough,” she said. “Meeting someone who made it, regardless of orientation or gender identity, gives hope.”