Launch Pad is a street-free sleep initiative developed by the LGBTQ and allied community in Nashville to provide temporary sleeping shelters for youth ages 18-24 in Davidson County. The program welcomes all youth, and LGBTQ youth in particular can feel confident that they will spend the night in a safe and affirming space.
Launch Pad works with local churches and over 100 volunteers to provide dinner, bedding, breakfast, and showers for guests. The program’s goal is to meet the immediate needs of homeless youth while working toward a broader comprehensive system of care, in partnership with local, state and federal agencies.
Since Launch Pad started in November 2014, it has:
- opened for 90 nights
- hosted 807 guests
- served 142 unique young adults ages 18-24
LGBTQ and Homelessness
Homelessness and LGBTQ status are closely intertwined. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, family rejection and expulsion based on a youth’s sexual orientation or gender identity is the leading cause of LGBTQ youth homelessness. Up to 20-40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. To further complicate matters, LGBTQ youth frequently find many shelters unwelcoming or unsafe. As an alternative, these individuals are often sexually exploited because they cannot find shelter.
How Launch Pad Works
Nashville will only open its winter emergency warming shelters when the temperature reaches below freezing – 25 degrees. Launch Pad is open regardless of the temperature to make sure that homeless young adults have a safe place to sleep.
“We provide a home cooked meal made by volunteers, a place to sleep indoors, fresh socks, coffee, and small breakfast in the morning, and a protein snack pack and water to take with them,” the website reads. “At some locations, we have shower facilities as well. As we prepare for winter, we have a larger need to outfit our spaces: not all of our hosts have mattresses or cots, and we must provide all bedding at three new locations.”
This winter, Launch Pad is open at three sites, three nights a week. Launch Pad is asking for the public’s financial assistance.
“We have set a funding goal of $25,000 that will go toward mattresses, food, toiletries, operational needs, and winter-weather supplies for our guests throughout 2016. We are 100 percent staffed by volunteers, so all donations will go directly toward the youth we serve,” a statement read.
- A $15 donation covers the cost of providing space, food and supplies for three guests a night.
- A $60 donation covers pizza for a night when there isn’t a home cooked meal.
- A $125 donation covers the cost of a mattress that can be used at a brand new site.
“We try to send a message to Nashville’s youth that they do matter by meeting a few of their basic needs this winter. All youth deserve street-free sleep,” the statement continued. “This winter, we’re looking to expand. Going from two nights a week to four nights a week is a big shift – and requires more hands on deck, a great deal more supplies, and a lot more support from the community. If we can provide shelter four night a week, another organization has committed to having similar shelters the remaining three nights. That means there will be a place for people aged 18-24 EVERY NIGHT OF THE WEEK.”
The fundraising campaign ends December 31. The campaign funds are managed by Music City Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.