"A Beacon in the Middle of the Shenandoah Valley" For LGBTQ+ People
When Emily Sproul plunged into the role of executive director of the Shenandoah Valley LGBTQ Center, she found that it was the dream job she never knew she wanted. At the time she took over leading the center, two of her four children had come out, and she knew there was a need for the type of resources this center provided to the LGBTQ+ community in the Staunton, Virginia area.
“What I really see us doing is creating a center that not only provides social support and referrals but that we can refer people in-house to a mental health professional, to a nurse practitioner, so that they can get all of their care in one place – a place that they feel safe,” Emily said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, fundraising became a big concern. Many LGBTQ+ centers rely on Pride Month to raise awareness of their mission and funds to support their efforts. P&G and iHeartRadio’s Can’t Cancel Pride campaign in 2020 supported organizations including CenterLink to bridge the funding gap during the global pandemic.
With the proceeds from Can’t Cancel Pride, CenterLink was able to able to provide $2,400 grants to more than 190 LGBTQ+ community centers and organizations, including the Shenandoah Valley LGBTQ Center.
“With the support from Can't Cancel Pride, we've been able to come out of the pandemic back into reopening like we’ve been shot out of a pinball machine,” Emily said.
The ongoing support has helped the Shenandoah Valley LGBTQ Center keep its doors open, giving Emily and her team the ability to help those struggling with their sexual orientation find a place to belong — as well as a hug when needed.
“I think overall the biggest impact is making space for LGBTQ people to be themselves,” Emily said. “We have shone a beacon out in the middle of the Shenandoah Valley to say you belong here.”
“Leading with Love” is a five-part series produced by Katie Couric Media in partnership with P&G that shares the inspirational stories of everyday people who Lead with Love, making meaningful impact in their communities. Find all of the episodes in this series on our blog.