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Shira Berkowitz, camp indigo point, Daniel Bogard, Jewish summer camp, LGBTQ, trans

Rabbi Daniel Bogard (left) and Camp Indigo Point founder Shira Berkowitz (right).

Trans youth continuously have to fight for their right to exist in the world. Living in a country where states are actively working to dismantle rights and protections for trans children and their families is stressful for trans youth, a section of the population that has alarmingly high rates of attempted suicide. Whether it’s things like the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, squabbles over which bathroom to use or banning trans kids from sports that fit their identified gender, these kids face a plethora of challenges on top of trying to just be kids. It’s imperative that there’s time for joy, friendship and feeling like they belong to counterbalance the negative messaging they’re receiving from the adults in charge.

Shira Berkowitz has answered the call to provide a place for LGBTQ+ children to feel like they belong. Berkowitz is one of the founders of Camp Indigo Point, a summer camp specifically for LGBTQ+ youth. The camp was inspired by their own experience as a camp program director—they were relieved of their duties after it was discovered that they were queer and the powers that be found it inappropriate for them to be a director for girls. Berkowitz told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency it “was really harmful to my identity. I went back in the closet for a few years.”


Eventually Berkowitz went on to work at Camp Sabra, Missouri’s biggest overnight camp. They found the environment much more accepting, but the experience at the other camp continued to motivate them to build an even more inclusive community. Even though Camp Sabra is accepting, at the time it only employed two other members of the LGBTQ+ community. Berkowitz and a friend from Camp Sabra, Daniel Bogard—a rabbi and parent who is raising a transgender child—thought up the idea for Camp Indigo Point last year, around the time that Missouri introduced multiple anti-trans bills, several of which are aimed at children.

Daniel Bogard (left) and Shira Berkowitz (right, foreground) with teen advocacy group.

Courtesy of Shira Berkowitz

It felt important to Berkowitz and Bogard to have a place where trans kids could feel safe and accepted. Camp Indigo Point is open for one week in June. When registration opened, it filled up within weeks—93 children from 27 states have filled the available spots. There are currently more than 50 children on the waitlist and more than 130 people vying for the 29 staff positions available.

Camp Indigo Point isn’t only available to Jewish trans youth, it’s open to all LGBTQ+ youth in America. The lucky kids that will get to spend a week there will certainly be in for a treat, having a space designed just for them that allows them the freedom to simply be.

The ability to exist fully within yourself as you were meant to be is something that many people take for granted. At this camp, these kids will finally be able to focus on what summer camps are designed for: being silly and having fun.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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Woman left at the altar by her fiance decided to 'turn the day around’ and have a wedding anyway

'I didn’t want to remember the day as complete sadness.'

via Pixabay

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