by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
In April, Lambert House announced it would need around $2 million to keep its 15th Avenue home of 25 years. The owners' planned sale of the property came at a time when Lambert House was considering the possibility of expanding its spaces.
'It also coincides with the redevelopment of many properties on Capitol Hill and elsewhere in Seattle, as land values have skyrocketed and older buildings are being razed to make way for denser and more profitable use,' said Ken Shulman, Lambert House's executive director.
As a result, Lambert House is launching a capital campaign to raise funds to either purchase the house or pay for the move to a new home.
Lambert House, which provides a safe place for Queer youth ages 11 to 22 (those aged 11 to 13 require parental consent to participate) got its start in the 1980s. Since then, it has kept a busy calendar of youth activities and provides programs and education centered on Queer issues. (You can learn more about the Lambert House programs at http://www.lamberthouse.org/programs.html.)
In 1993, Seattle Times writer Diedtra Henderson reported, '... More than a mix of agencies and programs, Lambert House has become a home. For many youths, school and family are hostile landscapes. At Lambert [House] they can escape isolation, relax, gossip, flirt, dance, gather for monthly house birthdays, collect Christmas gifts, kiss, slug it out in softball games, laugh, cry. Like a mirror, the home at 1818 15th Ave. reflects those who gather inside.'
That feeling of family and belonging, building lifelong friendships, and coming into your own as a Queer youth has not changed since the early days when 'the House' was just starting out. If you talk to any of the youth that go to Lambert House, you will quickly see how much the place means to them.
Amy Styer, a teen reporter at KUOW, wrote on August 21, 'The Lambert House has welcomed and accepted everything that I am. I've made a family along the way.'
'Right now the Lambert House is stuck in a predicament,' she reports. 'The owners of the house want $2 million by the end of the year, or else Lambert will be forced to move.'
In her article about Lambert House, 'Queer youth, you'll belong at this old house,' Styer profiles some of the youth at the house. 'I've been going to the Lambert House for a year now, 1 to 4 times a week. I've made lifelong friends that I can always be myself around. Like my best friend, Maya Vasquez, 19, a transgender female,' said Styer. 'Maya is outspoken and spends most of her time talking with the adult volunteers.'
'Lambert House made me realize that I need to mature a lot, especially towards politics,' said Vasquez. 'I'm an advocate now.'
Styer continues, 'I often see Johnny Quintana, 17, in the kitchen. According to him he's gay... probably. Although he's introverted, he is heavily active in planning events for the Lambert House.'
'It's giving me a clear picture of what I want to do in life, which is helping people and helping the queer community,' says Quintana.
'Lambert House is life-saving,' Shulman told KING-5 after he announced to media that Lambert House would need to either pay millions or move. 'It's life-saving by providing a safe physical space that is welcoming and comfortable. At its core, it provides them with a peer group with whom they feel accepted and where they feel normal.'
'The goal is two million dollars by the end of the year,' he said. 'If we are unable to raise two million to buy this property before the end of the year, we will move to another leased space.'
He's hoping the community will get behind the fundraising campaign and help Lambert House and the more than 600 youth it serves each year, saying, 'They want to be in a space that feels home-like, welcoming, and comfortable,' he said. 'And this is that.'
Lambert House has set up a fundraising page where supporters can donate any dollar amount they would like or can afford at www.NetworkForGood.org (https://goo.gl/5hrjyQ).
Lambert House could use all the help it can get. They have not been able to raise even half of $2 million and the end of the year is quickly upon us.
Another way to donate to the cause would be to attend the 'Bravo! for Belonging Benefit Concert' for Lambert House at Unexpected Productions' Market Theatre on September 26 (www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2601644). The show stars the Victor Janusz Band with Vocalist KC Compton and special guests.
According to the press release: 'Victor Janusz, longtime Seattle piano man and cabaret artist extraordinaire, and KC Compton, a singer new to Seattle, team up for a concert to benefit Lambert House, Seattle's internationally respected center for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Bassist Dave Pascal, sax player Medearis Dixon, and drummer Conor Apperson complete the ensemble that will rock a variety of styles, including blues, jazz, ballads, and originals, with veteran Kansas City musician Martha Haehl and Seattle musical theater siren Christine Noel Riippi as special guests.
'The musicians are joining forces for this concert as a statement that LGBTQ kids belong to all of us and their welfare is in all our hands. LGBTQ young people are an especially vulnerable population, and community-building is the primary prevention strategy Lambert House employs for an entire constellation of risks (homelessness, suicide, bullying, sexual exploitation, and medical issues) that disproportionally affect these youth.
'All proceeds will be donated to the Lambert House capital campaign to purchase a house the center can call home, since the current landlords have said they plan to sell later this year.
'The show is scheduled from 6 to 7 p.m. (for cocktail hour meet-and-greet), with a 7-9 p.m. performance located at Unexpected Productions' historic Market Theater (1428 Post Alley, Pike Place Market, entrance at the Gum Wall). Tickets are just $20, available through Brown Paper Tickets. To donate directly to Lambert House's capital campaign, go to www.SaveLambertHouse.org.'
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