Greek Life Life + Arts

Gamma Rho Lambda reaches fundraising goal to support members in financial need

Gamma Rho Lambda, UH’s only lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-focused sorority demonstrated the power of the Internet’s philanthropy as its Indiegogo campaign reached its full goal of $1,000 last month. The campaign — in the likes of other websites such as Kickstarter — offered rewards such as notes, bracelets and T-shirts for donations to offer scholarships to two GRL members with financial need.

The campaign was spearheaded after a spring bake sale only raised half of the full amount needed.  When GRL applied for alumni assistance from the national council and was denied, they turned to online.

“The Indiegogo was a last-ditched effort to keep these two members as active members of Gamma Rho Lambda,” said LaKeia Spady, now a UH alumna, who spearheaded the campaign. “Our goal was to raise enough to cover what they owed and raise enough to start a scholarship to help anyone who is struggling to pay dues.”

The campaign was launched June 19 and met its goal July 14.  But the campaign won’t end until August 18, and any extra funds from the campaign will be donated to the Houston-area LGBT organization Hatch, or will be used to begin a pool for any future members with financial need.

Despite the “sorority” label, GRL is also open to transgender men and non-binary or gender non-conforming individuals — people who identify as neither male nor female. The UH Kappa chapter came to campus spring 2010, and became a full chapter in 2012.

“We’re more of a family than anything… We do a lot of volunteer work and community involvement, but we also do a lot of familial things where we try to hang out with each other as much as possible and we pick each other up when we’re down,” said English sophomore Jacqueline Taylor, GRL secretary and alumni relations.

As the popularity of crowdfunding websites such as Indiegogo and Gofundme have skyrocketed, LGBT individuals have used them to combat what were once debilitating issues among the community, such as homelessness, escaping abusive households, paying for surgeries and other medical care and more.

Spady said that social media helps LGBT people receive support from people all over the world, when they might normally never receive it.

“Identifying as a member LGBT community causes you to face a very unique kind of marginalization. Unlike other minorities, LGBT people are usually different, even from those in their own families,” Spady said. “LGBT people very commonly face rejection from their family members who are not ready to accept them, and this often results in lack of family support, lack of resources and even homelessness. When people cannot count on their families for help they often turn to their communities for support.”

GRL did receive the support they asked for and have currently raised  $1,040,  surpassing their goal of $1,000. Spady said she was “shocked” by how quickly the organization reached their goal.

As the GRL national chapters are still young, without the help of a reliable alumni base the organization will continue to pool together funds through more traditional means — bake sales, craft sales and the like — in order to raise funds for future members with financial need, or who cannot turn to family for support.

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