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Pflag faces cash crunch

Toronto chapter may have to cut back services

LOOKING FOR PAYBACK. Marlene Morais says queers need to help Pflag. Credit: Jenna Wakani

The Toronto chapter of Pflag — formerly Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays — says it’ll have to cut back its services without a cash infusion.

“Pflag Toronto is having a cash crunch,” says past president Marlene Morais. “We do a lot for the community. We think it’s payback time.”

Morais says Pflag is not facing closure but might have to scale back considerably.

“There probably will always be a Pflag even if it’s in someone’s living room, which it is in a lot of places,” she says. “I just can’t see allowing these parents to flounder by themselves. We’re lucky to have the resources to do more. It’s that more that will have to stop.”

Morais says the organization has expanded well beyond its original function.

“Our grassroots mandate is to be there for the parents,” she says. “We’ve sort of branched out from there into the community, to the school board, to the police. I don’t think the community is fully aware of what we do.

“Maintaining a 24-7 hotline costs money. We have an office, we have a part-time coordinator. We have to pay for space for support meetings. We’re having brochures translated into different languages. We’re trying to start up our speakers series again. Advertising is very expensive. We fundraise continually but we’re growing. Fundraising is more difficult these last few years.”

Morais says Pflag is making a particular effort to establish antihomophobia programs in schools and to reach parents in various ethnic communities.

“The kids in school are having a terrible time, that’s not improving,” she says. “There’s a lot more outreach to be done. There’s a lot of work to be done with our ethnic communities. It’s devastating to them and even more devastating to their children. Homophobia is ingrained and it’s difficult to teach them otherwise. And the language barrier makes it even more difficult.

“We’re also working with the police service, maybe reducing some of the homophobia there.”

Morais says Pflag would like to raise an additional $10,000 to $15,000 a year. The organization’s current funding comes from memberships — a single membership costs $30 a year and a family membership costs $40 — and fundraising activities. But Morais says Pflag helps a lot of parents who don’t become members.

Morais couldn’t provide Pflag’s 2007 financial records, but the organization’s 2006 tax return lists expenditures of $35,793 on revenues of $42,130.

Morais also says Pflag is in desperate need of volunteers.

“We’d like to see the community step up,” she says. “We need volunteers. We need graphic artists. We need printing done all the time. We need things we can get pro bono. We need people with fundraising skills.”