“Our culture is evolving and we need to listen,” says Cynthia Ruffin, Community Relations and Recruitment Director of COLORS, counseling services at Antioch University Los Angeles that provides free counseling to LGBTQ youth under 25 as well as their family and/or partners. COLORS began in 2012 at Antioch as a student capstone project from the LGBT Specialization, a focus in our MA in Clinical Psychology program. Cynthia is the first full-time director and has been hard at work getting involved in local communities to talk to young people and their families about what COLORS provides.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among youth under 25, and for those who fall under the LGBTQ umbrella, suicide attempts are 3 times more likely. These youths are also less likely to receive the help that they need due to a variety of factors. “Those between twelve and fifteen can’t drive themselves to therapy,” Ruffin explains, and oftentimes these young adolescents can’t come out to their families for safety reasons or even mention that they are seeking out therapy.
Ruffin also highlights that another major component of the COLORS program is the capacity to offer counseling to parents and families of the youth seeking counseling. “They’re struggling as well with the fear of what could happen to their children. They see escalating hate crimes and mental health concerns and they need help themselves just to navigate the landscape.” Due to the high demand for the services COLORS provides, Ruffin is seeking to expand its reach to accommodate the needs of the wider Los Angeles community.
“Expansion is key and we’re working to make COLORS available everywhere, especially near metro areas that are easier to get to.” All of this and more will be possible for COLORS in the future, due in part to two fundraising campaigns happening this Spring. The first campaign is online via Crowdrise which will focus its proceeds on“outreach materials and community events like conferences and other youth-focused activities.”
The second campaign is COLORS Annual Garden Party on June 1st, located at Charles Jacobsen Inc in Culver City. The event will feature a gorgeous garden and a curated gallery of antique Asian furniture and art. Guests will enjoy the sights, the delicious offerings of DTLA Cheese, general “fun-raising” and the glorious sounds of Trans Chorus LA. Anyone interested in donating or attending this year’s Garden Party, please click the links above. Every donation matters and will ensure that those who desperately need the services that COLORS provides will get them.