Two of the country’s most prominent LGBT organizations — PFLAG Canada and Jer’s Vision — have partnered up to reduce overhead costs and put more resources back into building safer communities.
“There’s a natural synergy between the two organizations,” says Jeremy Dias, founder and executive director of Jer’s Vision, a youth-led national initiative working to stop homophobia, discrimination and bullying in schools.
“There’s a huge overlap in the skills and the training that we do,” he says, “so it was a clear opportunity for us to save some money and reinvest our dollars into LGBTQ communities.”
PFLAG Canada will now be operating a national office out of Ottawa, co-located with Jer’s Vision and staffed under the volunteer management of Dias.
Its national hub, created in 2003 to support and spread the existing PFLAG volunteer network, used to be located in Moncton. PFLAG has been looking for other options since budgetary restraints left it without an executive director almost a year ago. Now based in the nation’s capital, its staff will instead consist of up to three part-time coordinators to take care of day-to-day operations.
By sharing office space and merging management, both organizations will save on overhead costs. But the alliance will do a lot more than that, according to Francine Proulx-Kenzle, president of PFLAG Canada.
She says that while Jer’s Vision has some very popular projects, it doesn’t have the widespread structure PFLAG has established over the years. Bringing those projects together with the well-established network of more than 70 PFLAG chapters will allow them to cover a lot of common ground.
“Our work is totally different, and at the same time we have so much in common,” she says. “This alliance is not a melding of visions, and we’re each retaining our own identity as a charitable organization, but we’ll be working side by side and really contributing to each other’s success.”
Take the Day of Pink, for example, one of Jer’s Vision’s biggest initiatives. This international day against bullying, discrimination, homophobia and transphobia now has 70 new organizations that will be able to champion it in their communities. The two groups can also share distribution lists, so their emails reach a bigger audience, and coordinate efforts at national conferences and meetings.
“This is where our connection is a win-win for both of us,” Proulx-Kenzle says. “We’ll be able to educate more and be even more present in all of the communities. It’s a good way to join forces but still keep our own identity.”
Each organization will continue with its regular efforts and projects, with most changes happening at the operations level. Dias will now sit on PFLAG’s board of directors as the advisory member for operations, and someone from PFLAG will also sit on Jer’s Vision’s board.
There will be a formal review in six months and other reviews throughout the process to monitor the successes and challenges of this new alliance.
“Together, we will be building a stronger network of PFLAG chapters that will support and serve members of the LGBT community and their allies across our country,” Dias says. “I look forward to connecting with each chapter to build safer communities from sea to sea to sea.”