Category Archives: Giving

Zach Wahls with moms & sibling at kitchen table

Join me in supporting Our Family Coalition

guest post by Iowa State Senator Zach Wahls

It’s an honor to write to you today to share a bit about why I love Our Family Coalition, and why I’m urging you to support OFC generously this holiday season.

Zach Wahls with moms & sibling at kitchen table
I’m the proud son of two amazing moms, and in 2011, as a 19-year-old college student, I spoke about my family to the Iowa House Judiciary Committee. They were considering a ban on same-sex marriages, which our Supreme Court had found constitutional just two years before.

When a videotape of that speech went viral on YouTube, it became clear that my defense of my family – and of the dignity and worth of all our families – touched a nerve. Our recognition was long overdue.

A lot has happened in the eight years since then. I’ve gotten an even keener appreciation of the importance that visibility, inclusion and community holds for LGBTQ families. And I’ve come to know who’s been making a difference in that work. Our Family Coalition has been providing visibility, advocating for inclusion, and building community for our families since I was barely old enough to spell out L-G-B-T-Q.

I’m proud to now serve as an Iowa State Senator. When I ran for this seat, education was central to my platform. Iowa public schools taught me most of what I know, and I feel that we have a moral responsibility to make education better and more accessible. That’s why OFC’s stellar work for LGBTQ families in our schools means so much to me.

And this work is getting to a critical point right now: after ensuring LGBTQ-inclusive education is part of state education code, subject matter standards, and textbooks, perhaps the most consequential chapter of this work is just beginning: helping schools and teachers bring this content into the classroom in an accurate, effective way.

You should know that the incredible leadership OFC has provided around this in California spreads to other states working on LGBTQ-inclusive education, by way of example, inspiration, and more. This year, OFC launched LGBTQHistory.org, a website providing resources and materials to support K-12 educators nationwide who are just beginnng to teach LGBTQ-inclusive history. This, all while training more than 1,000 educators and school community members throughout California in 2019!

I hope you will join me in supporting this critical work by this vital organization, by making a generous donation today!

Words of Wisdom from One Great Dad

above: Martin, Bob, and sons

Martin Mitchell works as an administrator in the Oakland Unified School District, and served as a member of Our Family Coalition’s Board of Directors for years. He’s now an OFC Emeritus Board member, and also Treasurer and a Deacon at City of Refuge UCC Church.

OUR FAMILY COALITION: Tell us a bit about your family: anything you’d like to share about how you came to be?

MARTIN MITCHELL: Bob and I have two adopted sons, one 16 and the other 24. We’ve been together for 18 years and legally married for five. Both our sons were adopted as teenagers, which is a bit unusual —but there’s a huge need in that area.

OFC: Has your notion of community uplift changed since you became a parent, and if so, how?

MM: No, it hasn’t. I’ve just had to learn how to plan better! (laughs) I’ve always been involved with the community. I’m almost 60, and I worked on my first political campaign when I was 16 years old! Throughout my life I’ve always been involved, whether it’s with some organization, mentoring young men, or tutoring kids—it’s how I was raised. You give back to the community when you can. So when I had children, I didn’t want to give that up. I just had to be sure that what I was involved with did not take time away from my family, and instead ideally include them.

OFC: What kinds of community volunteer work do you engage in now that has been family-friendly, and why?

MM: We’ve found the kids can easily be involved with us at church. For years, Bob was involved with the church food pantry. Our youngest son James would go with him twice a month. They would get there about 5:00AM, set it up, and then end up staying until it closed. It was how he got James involved. And it stuck.

OFC: Do you see your sons showing you new directions in community involvement?

MM: Both Bob and I come from families that were very involved where we grew up. Now that we’re parents, we know our children will eventually emulate what they grew up with. Since our parents instilled in us a sense of service, we’re hoping we can instill the same in our sons. The value of giving is multi-generational.

Lawrence, our oldest, is a court advocate. He works with young people who are in the juvenile justice system and are out on parole or waiting for their court cases. Helping others is a critical part of a career, for him. It’s just part of his personality.

James is the same way. When he first came to live with us, we used to talk a lot about helping others. But we saw that he already had that value in him; helping just came naturally. When he was in middle school, we always told him, “Don’t fight. Just walk away.” But the fights he got into were when he was protecting other kids who were being bullied. He’s very caring. Even when Bob couldn’t go to the pantry, James would make arrangements to have someone pick him up so he could still go.

OFC: How do you manage manage a life of service as a working parent?

MM: Whatever you engage in has to be something you’re going to enjoy. There are hundreds of organizations that need volunteers. Find organizations that your children can get involved in as well, so they can go with you, and at least from time to time, get involved. If you have a busy work life, your kids have sports and school, you just have to set a time aside and say, “As a family, we’re going to do this once a month.” If you can get the entire family involved, it works. And if not, as an individual you start that example, and maybe everyone else will follow.

OFC: Anything else you’d like to share?

MM: It’s a gift to be able to give back. And it teaches your kids to respect individuals who are less fortunate than they are. It’s just the luck of the draw. Any of us can be in that place at any time in our lives. You have to help others because there may be times when you’re going to need help. Life has a way of showing showing up at your front door when you don’t expect it!

A free pair of Night Out gala tickets to you social media mavens with the most hustle!

Calling all Our Family Coalition supporters!

We’re glad you’re part of our community, and we love doing what we do on behalf of your family and our community.

Today we’re asking for a little help back, something fun, which includes a major perk if you throw yourself into it.

Would you be an ambassador on behalf of OFC
for this year’s Give OUT Day,Tuesday, April 18, 2019?

Give OUT Day is the one and only national day of giving for the LGBTQ community, driven by thousands of individuals passionately promoting things they care about via their networks online. Here’s our organization’s GiveOUT day page, so you can get an idea of what this is about. We’d love to have you on board as an ambassador!

What would you do? Three simple things:

  1. Establish an Individual GiveOUT Day Donor page, so you can personalize your pitch & we can track your donors (we’ll help; it’s easy).
  2. Be willing to spread the word to your friends and social media/ Facebook followers over the weeks before Give OUT Day.
  3. Plug Give OUT Day on Tuesday, April 18th, with as much enthusiasm as you have time that day, with Tweets, Facebook posts, email blasts to friends, etc.

We’ll walk you through it all, if you’re in. It’s simple, it’s fun, and it’s huge way to give back to OFC.

Ready for the major perk?

The OFC ambassador who nets the most unique donors  – not the most donation money total, just the most people donating  – will be thanked with two free tickets to this year’s Night Out Gala, Friday April 26!  Sweet, right?

If you’re interested, email us at media@ourfamily.org.