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Week 52: ROSMY

Dear Batter Up friends, meet Charles Dyson from ROSMY!

ROSMY was actually nominated by three different people. The first nomination came in from Cam McPherson. This is what he had to say:

“Beth Panilaitis: She’s the executive director at ROSMY, an organization that supports LGBTQ youth living in Central Virginia. I’m a former ROSMY youth and serve on the org’s junior board, so I get to see Beth’s passion and dedication firsthand. She is such a huge advocate for LGBTQ youth and has been an incredible force in the organization. Everyone loves working with her. She gives us updates at our junior board meetings—we call them “mission moments”—and it’s just so cool to hear all the good work ROSMY is doing, whether it’s good news about a youth getting into college or changing the attitudes of a parent who had a strained relationship with their child.”

The second nomination came in from Noell Rathburn-Cook. This is what she had to say:

“The staff at ROSMY (Beth, Jessica-full disclosure she’s my partner—and Charles). They make a huge difference in the lives of LGBTQ youth and their families. And they are an amazing resource for RVA. They are dedicated and wonderful, and the work they do is valuable, but hard. So thankful this organization exists!”

The third nomination was more of a passing mention from Erin Collins.

SO, after receiving three nominations for ROSMY in less than a month, this one was a no brainer. And, since it seemed to be so popular, I decided they would get the token 52nd week spot.

Who is ROSMY, you ask? Founded in 1991, ROSMY’s mission is to ensure equal opportunities for success for Virginia’s LGBTQ youth through access to support, education, and advocacy. They are the only organization in the area that directly addresses the unique needs and healthy social development of LGBTQ youth ages 11-20 and they accomplish their mission through a variety of programming.

ROSMY’s initiatives are vast—in both their physical reach as well as their varied targets. First and foremost, there is the 24/7 youth support line. At any time a you can call and ask a trained operator for support. If you’re interested in something that’s a little more hands-on, there is a support group held at the Richmond and/or Charlottesville office just about every day of the week that focus on topics such as being out in school, healthy relationships, body image, drugs and alcohol, and healthy role models. A special leadership program runs from September to May and provides opportunities for students to learn about public speaking, advocacy, and board service; and if you just want to drop-in and take advantage of the facility’s resources, you can do that any day of the week starting at 1 pm. Of course, ROSMY also knows how to show the kids a good time. They have an alternative prom, game nights, holiday parties, pool parties, and tons of other events throughout the year that offer their LGBTQ youth the opportunity to have fun in a safe and supportive environment.

In addition to working directly with the kids, ROSMY implemented the Institute for Equality which supports human service providers and school personnel across Virginia in effectively working with out and questioning youth. The Institute provides information about adolescent sexual and gender identity development and encourages adults to empower youth by helping them recognize their inherent value and steer them away from risks often faced by LGBTQ youth.

I LOVE this organization. In an age where bullying is rampant and you can publicly shame a person with the click of a button, it is more important than ever to support kids and help them feel their own value. I can’t imagine growing up in the technology age. I was bullied in school and I don’t think I would have made it through in this day and age. The safe haven, education, and support that ROSMY is providing to these kids is truly priceless.

As with most deliveries, it took a bit of coordination to plan this one. Since both Beth and the organization as a whole had been nominated, I wanted to make sure that I showed up when the whole staff was there. I emailed back and forth with both Cam and Noell in hopes of figuring out the best time. Because Beth is often heading to Charlottesville and Jessica works different hours, it was hard to nail everyone down. Eventually Cam engaged another board member to set up a fake meeting with the staff to ensure everyone would be there. This board member wasn’t actually going to be at “the meeting” so it was imperative that I was on time and explained what had happened. My instructions were to be there at 10 am and that’s exactly what I did. I’m not sure where the breakdown in communication happened, but when I arrived, Charles was the only one at the office and didn’t know anything about a 10 am meeting. Whomp Whomp. It’s not the first time that a delivery didn’t happen as planned and it won’t be the last. I’m just sorry that I wasn’t able to surprise the whole staff and get a picture of all of them. Hopefully Charles shared the cake. ;-)

And speaking of cake, this one was a doozy! Of course cake number 52 had to be a big deal to close out the year so it was a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Devil’s Food Cake Cheesecake Cake with a Molasses Buttercream. Hole Moly! (You can find the recipe here at Sprinkle Bakes.) This was the most complicated thing I’ve ever done. Just FYI, I have about two and a half square feet of counter space in my kitchen. You can only imagine the pain and suffering that went into creating and building this monster. (Twice!—Don’t forget I always do a test cake.) However, it was all worth it. The final product was multi-dimensional with layer after layer of carefully crafted goodness to appeal to lots tastes—just like ROSMY.