Samantha's Corner - Community Can Ease Other's Suffering

Kansas City is beautiful in the fall. The leaves have turned. The air is crisp at night. We have holiday plans on our minds. Yet, as much as this speaks to me, many in our community do not look forward to the holidays.

At the Kansas City Center for Inclusion (KCCI), we get requests from community members on a daily basis. Although most requests are related to information or resources, some are seeking assistance for individuals suffering homelessness and poverty. I am very passionate about these requests.

There are many of us in the community who are several missed paychecks away from homelessness. If we were to experience a significant life trauma, we may not be able to pay all our bills. To many, this is a fear. I know I have personally struggled at times with paying all my bills.

One thing that I have found helpful when I have been close to fiscal insolvency is relationships. My relationships with others have given me the ability to ask for help. To me, this is what the holiday season means: Growing in a closer relationship to others.

Since the center’s inception, we have been located in Midtown. We are in a space connected to the community by the bus system and two major roads (39th Street and Main Street). We have several weekly visitors who just come by to hang out. They come by for these relationships. What these visitors don’t know is that they need these connections as much as our volunteers need to be connected with them.

Thanksgiving dinner

This Thanksgiving, for the first time, we will be offering a community dinner at the Center for Inclusion. Thanks to our community members, everyone in the greater Kansas City area will be welcome to join us for this event.

The day after Thanksgiving, you can continue in the holiday spirit and culminate your Black Friday by joining KCCI at Hamburger Mary’s. Our very own Melinda Ryder will be hosting a special Drag Queen Charity Bingo. Be sure to make reservations as soon as possible, though. This will be a busy and fun night.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Another important date coming up is Nov. 20, which is Transgender Day of Remembrance. The last three years, we have provided a Reflection Space Event, including the scrolling or reading of names of the transgender people we have lost to violence in the previous year. This year, we are supporting other organizations and activists that are planning an event. Plans are still in the works, so follow our page and website for updates.

My personal belief is that Transgender Day of Remembrance should be every day. We are seeing epidemic proportions of violence towards trans women of color, which is rooted in racism, transphobia and homophobia. This problem needs to be elevated in our community. Trans people are dying, and it needs to discussed daily, at work, at church, at home and in our community.

Be a trans ally

Cis people need to step up and learn what it means to be an ally. Being an ally is more than showing up for Transgender Day of Remembrance or rallies. It means being an advocate and raising your voice and your work. To learn more, check out the Trans Ally Toolkit available online that was created by the ACLU of Missouri, including the work of Jay-Marie Hill:

Leaders Forums and parking volunteers

My friend Lisa Wright from PFLAG will be organizing the next LGBTQIA Leaders Forum. These events give the leaders a chance to communicate and collaborate. We are trying for sometime in early December. Stay tuned and follow our page and PFLAG’s page for more information.

Finally, I wanted to say a special thanks to the many volunteers who helped KCCI handle the parking duties at the Renaissance Festival over the last several weeks. We were able to staff the seven weekends successfully, and I am moved that we have such great people in the community who would give of their time on the weekends to make this a reality.

Samantha Ruggles is the interim executive director of the Kansas City Center for Inclusion. 

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