Meet Joanna

Dear Community Member,

None of us can get through this life on our own.  We need each other. For those of us in the LGBTQ community, the importance of that message is now more important than ever!

It is always important to have people who you can lean on, but having people who will be there for you in times of strife and hardship is essential.  At the Rainbow Community Center of Contra Costa County (RCC), we create chosen family based on love, support, and community. Our strength, power, and joy are amplified when we unite.

When our community center was the target of a series of break-ins and hate speech, we came together to support one another.  If the intent was to harm and create fear within our LGBTQ family, the attacks had the opposite effect – we were supported by an outpouring of love and care from our community. Friends, family, allies, and government officials united and all showed their love and support. Support and a strong sense of community is what we will need to create strength and build the resilient spirit of the LGBTQ community. Rainbow is committed to creating the kind of place where that work can happen.

Joanna, a transwoman, has experienced first-hand the life changing power of the RCC community.  Joanna first found the RCC over a year ago.  She was tired of living her life in the closet, and wanted to find a place to connect with others in a LGBTQ environment that fosters both health and growth. Joanna had told other people about her trans* identity throughout her lifetime, but had always kept it a secret from the world at large.

She started out by accessing our support groups and counseling.  She then got interested in volunteering at the food pantry.  She describes volunteering at the Food Pantry as “the height of my week.”  And later, to her astonishment, she was nominated and elected as an Associate Board Member in August of this year.

Joanna expressed her gratitude for finding the RCC.

“Like a bee to honey I discovered RCC. I come to RCC, and I just light up when I’m there. It is a very visceral kind of high. I know other people feel that. And I connect and feel that when I’m at the RCC…the place has been life changing for me.  It is nothing I expected.”

 She also described the way she has seen other people in her support groups grow and transform as a result of their support at the RCC.

 “You start to watch them blossom, and develop their personalities.  They become more articulate, sophisticated, confident, and above all, immensely happier.  They feel more grounded and balanced.”

 In addition to watching the transformation of those in her support groups, Joanna has been able to connect with those from different parts of our community. Joanna has gained exposure to many cultures and experiences, some of which she had previously had no access to or interaction with. She describes her connections with other members of our broad LGBTQ+ community as enlightening and inspiring.

At the Rainbow Community Center, we know that in coming together and learning from each other, our strength and power grows. The RCC aims to build community and promote well-being among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) persons and our allies. We are a rainbow of differences that are more beautiful when we come together to help each other shine.

A donation to our End-of-Year Campaign means helping to create the type of vibrant LGBTQ community that we would all benefit from; it means remembering our strength in numbers, and showing up for each other; it means remembering your time as an LGBTQ youth, and reaching out to support youth today; it means imagining what we will need as LGBTQ seniors, and supporting the seniors of today; and it means creating safe havens for those in our community who need your help, compassion and connection.

We hope that you will join with RCC’s many amazing and loyal donors, staff, board members and volunteers to help sustain local programs for LGBTQ seniors, LGBTQ youth, People Living with HIV/AIDS, and community members in need of mental health services. Our community feels your year-end generosity throughout the year.

Please help us create the connections that will hold us up, and hold us together in these trying times.

In Community,

Ken Carlson, Board President                 Ben-David Barr, PhD, Executive Director


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