Susan: My name is Susan Feit. I’m the Executive Director of NCCJ of the Piedmont Triad. NCCJ works to fight bias, bigotry, and discrimination against all groups. We bring people together; people that are often kept apart based on differences or perceived differences. Races, cultures, gender identity, sexual orientation, social-economic class, all kinds of gender in general, what keeps us apart and really our mission is to bring everybody together. So that we bring LGBTQ community together with others that might never have had the opportunity to hear firsthand what it means to be a member of this community or what it feels like when you hear the expression, “That’s so gay.”
It might be an expression that’s heard every single day in a high school. Often times people really say it without thinking about what’s behind the words, how that might be a powerful insult or is it just that daily drip of water that every single day you hear, “That’s so gay, that’s so gay,” and really all that somebody meant was, “That’s so stupid,” or, “Hey, don’t do that.” Once, kids in our case, but also adults are sensitized to really what that means and how that could impact somebody then it is often a transformative moment and language chance which is just one symptom really or a change in attitude or a change in behavior.
One of the things that happened to me recently was I saw one of our graduates of our flagship program. Our signature program and what we get support from Guilford Green is Any Town. It is our signature program; it’s a youth leadership program that works on diversity and inclusion. Every year we take 136 students from around Guilford County up to the mountains for five days. People will describe it more often than not as life changing. One of the reasons that I’m so grateful for the funding for Guilford Green Foundation is that I think NCCJ does among the most important work in this community. What we really need is support for the long term and for our best practices. Our absolute best signature program is Any Town. That’s what we are known for. Our goal is to bring any town, any time. Because really what the NCCJ and Any Town model is, is to challenge people to be their absolute best that they possibly can be.
That’s what’s so inspiring and powerful about this, that actually to be inclusive of people that are different than me makes me a better person makes my community more vibrant, makes me more authentic. That’s really the power of it. That’s what inspires our students and also our adult participants to realize that not only do they have the ability. We instill in them the responsibility to come back and change their community. Guilford Green Foundation is an incredibly important institution in our community. In fact, I feel like Greensboro is different because we have Guilford Green Foundation that’s willing to be out there, speak up and fund, but also be a presence in our community and to make sure that it’s an advocate for LGBTQ community on all matters. To be eternally vigilant, that’s not something we can do as individuals but it’s certainly something that you can do if you join Guilford Green. So what I would suggest is never doubt the importance of getting out of your chair and showing up just one time. Never doubt the importance of giving just $5 or $5,000. Everybody needs to do what they can to issues that they are passionate about. Just don’t doubt that it is in your power to make a difference.