Marty Shimko has known about United Way for his entire corporate career. As a prominent organization in the Twin Cities, United Way is a name most people recognize. He heard about Arise Project from a member of the community and felt that the group’s mission aligned well with that of his own philanthropic goals. Along with being a member of Arise project, he also works closely with the LGBT Business Resource group at his employer, U.S Bancorp.
Marty helps as both an Arise steering committee member, as well as a volunteer, working directly with homeless youth. His experience with the group has been surprisingly eye opening. “It is amazing to see the resilience and creativeness that these young people have for staying off the streets and bettering their future.”
His passion for helping others stems from his personal experience with rejection. Marty explains, “I remember the struggle that I experienced coming to terms with my sexual identity. Finally, I could let go of the secret that was haunting me for most of my life! Finally, I could be honest with myself and others. When I learned that kids living on the streets as a result of their being gay – I knew I had to do something. I didn’t want them to go through the agony that I had experienced for much of my life.”
Marty hopes that one day there will not be a need for Arise Project in the same way that it is so needed today, and that society will be able to view the issue of sexual identity differently. He believes we need to focus on raising awareness of the problem and what we’re doing to change it, as well as educating youth. Marty hopes that in the future, someone will “not look at you as a young gay person, but rather a young person that happens to be gay.” Making efforts to aid homeless gay youth in bettering their future will help turn this idea into a reality.
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