West iNd Connection & the WiNc Inclusion Center
Much love and gratitude to the community we serve for being the voice in our actions, and to those who are in need please know we see you; we hear you and we value you. You are our inspiration, and you are Loved! It’s your stories and experiences that are our inspiration to make change in Independence.
The number of youths that have become homeless or in the Foster Care system due to their family’s acceptance continues to grow. Many of these youths are hidden from support services and are trying to make the best of life by going from home-to-home or couch surfing while struggling to find employment without judgement.
During our family friendly gathering at Drumm Farm, Popsicles N Pride, attendees experienced protesters that spued hate and degrading language from groups that want to erase and criminalize the LGBTQ+ community.
A father whose trans and non-binary child is feeling under attack in our school district by its decision to ban books that share a positive non-binary story. He shared his story with us and inspired action. A group from West iNd Connection joined in support of his efforts at the ISD School Board.
In June, Pride Flags flew down the parkway in the Englewood Arts District. This brought much joy to our community members, but unfortunately it also became a reason to spew hate. Many took the extra step to express that hate by phone, emails and social media posts.
Now is NOT the time to be silent! We believe by coming together we are stronger and can make a huge impact.
West iNd Connection Mission
West iNd Connection (WiNc) was established to create a safe and progressive community for all to live, work, play and visit. We aim to create a positive progressive culture and strengthen awareness for all members of our city through arts programs, neighborhood initiatives, and public events. Our intention is to explore all possibilities for fostering partnerships that support local programs in our core pillars: Arts, LGBTQ+ Community, Animal Welfare, and Community Care.
WiNc Inclusion Center
The WiNc Inclusion Center supports and serves the LGBTQ+ Community of Independence, MO, and greater Jackson County area by providing a #SAFESPACE. This will also be a host space for the WiNc Mentorship and Life & Job Skills programs/activities. The WiNc Inclusion Center will be financed via revenue from activities including a retail/food service experience, event ticket sales, community donation drives, Corporate & Patreon sponsorships, and government/corporate grants.
NEXT, we will launch a Mentorship Program that will focus on disconnected LGBTQ+ youth in the foster system, and youth/individuals that are at high risk of further isolation and possible homelessness because of their sexual orientation, or gender expression. WiNc is tapping into the existing knowledge, skills, and experience of national and regional organizations to develop this program and a team of community mentors that will be based out of the WiNc Inclusion Center.
FOLLOWING that, WiNc will launch our Life & Job Skills programs. Based on the needs determined by the Mentors, WiNc Inclusion Center will provide Life Skills classes or coaching for Homecare, Selfcare, Practical Banking, etc. This will be accomplished through a combination of in person coaching/mentorship or instructor led classes at WiNc Inclusion Center.
Understanding that our economy needs more LGBTQ+ affirming small businesses, WiNc is designing a program that benefits the LGBTQ+ and community youth with Job Skills/experience, leadership/business training, while cultivating small business entrepreneurship. This program will also be based in the WiNc Inclusion Center.
ADDITIONALLY, to the 3-year plan above, we realize that building community partnerships is key to success. Over the past 4 years WiNc has built strong relationships with area businesses and associations and we are currently seeking new partnerships with government agencies and private sector companies to build out our programs. WiNc is also working with LGBTQ+ affirming local businesses to extend the reach of the WiNc Inclusion Center with hosting events, cross promotions, and sharing knowledge of how to support the LGBTQ+ community in their business.
History of the Organization
WiNc was born out of B-Vogue Salon and Gallery. In about 2008 a guest at the salon was distraught. They typically had snacks for certain children they knew were less fortunate. To their dismay, they had forgotten snacks that day, and knew it was possible that a child might not have anything to eat for the weekend! Being brand inspired by John Paul Mitchell Systems to care globally and live locally, B-Vogue knew there was work to do! So started a philanthropic journey that led to the creation of a non-profit to find out, #WhatElseIsPossible.
We knew we could be the change we wished to see in Western Independence, Missouri!
WiNc now finds itself hosting several annual events that raise funds to support the mission, like HeART 2 HeART, Artists in Bloom, Independence Pride Walk and Thadapalooza. In September of 2022 WiNc leased a space that is to become the first LGBTQ+ inclusion center for the city of Independence, Mo.
Outcomes & Community Impact
Founding organization of Englewood Arts
In our fledgling year, news that the old Englewood Theater was up for purchase was floating around and some community members acted. Being visionaries WiNc launched a $50,000 campaign in hopes of contributing to the efforts of the purchase. Alas, the major goal to acquire the Theater was not met. However, over $30,000 was raised to support the cause. It was decided that those funds be directed to the newly founded Englewood Arts non-profit who was planning to purchase the building next door to the Theater and turn it into and Arts Center.
In the past 9 years, one of our core events, Thadapalooza, has evolved to become a Drag Variety show with the sole purpose to raise funds for the LGBTQ+ Community of Independence, Mo. The first 3 years funds went to Kansas City organizations, because there wasn’t any LGBTQ+ organizations in Independence that WiNc was aware of. In the 4th year, WiNc discovered that GSA clubs existed in all the Independence School District High Schools. WiNc could now keep the funds raised in Independence! In 2022, the goal was set for Thadapalooza to raise $10,000 that year. The show smashed that goal and raised over $13,500 bringing the grand total raised over the past 9 years to over $50,000!
Community & Resources
For the longest time all resources and social events available to the LGBTQ+ Community was only available in Kansas City. Independence has always been full of trail blazing pioneers that helped shape the future. WiNc started a journey, that we believe is as equally trailblazing, to build a more inclusive community program.
“I got to be myself!”, was the answer of one the LGBTQ+ youths gave upon returning from Queer Prom when asked, “What was your favorite part of the evening?” The kids were members of Gay/Straight Alliance clubs (GSA) and were able to attend with funds we raised to support their clubs.
Financial Support Needs
The WiNc Inclusion Center and its programs are made possible with your ongoing financial support. Every dollar donated and every purchase made empowers the programs that empower others to do great things for our community. The WiNc Inclusion Center 2023 annual budget is just under $500,000. This includes basic business expenses such as employee compensation, mentor education, educational program & materials, lease obligations, utilities, costs of business.
Your donation will enable immediate action at the WiNc Inclusion Center as we begin providing resources and creating a #Safespace for the LGBTQ+ Community. To learn more about our 2023 operating plan & budget, email firstname.lastname@example.org
How You Can Help
Ready to be a part of #WhatElseIsPossible
Charitable Gift Donation
Unleash the power of #WhatElseIsPossible with a Charitable Gift Donation at westindconnection.com or an in-person donation can be made at WiNc Inclusion Center. A Charitable Gift Donation is a onetime or monthly no benefits contribution. westindconnection.com/pages/charitable-gift-donation
We are excited to offer an easy way to support West iNd Connection and WiNc Inclusion Center on Patreon. Patreon members provide a monthly donation and gain access to our Patreon community, benefits, exclusives and more. www.patreon.com/westindconnection
Corporate Sponsorships & Grants
Our Fundraising & Grants teams are seeking sponsorships & grants to cover the first 5 years of operations. Our intention is to explore all possibilities. To share an opportunity or for more information, email email@example.com
Facebook Donate Button & Fundraisers
One time or monthly donations can be made by clicking the donation button on our Facebook Page or create a Facebook Fundraiser benefiting West iNd Connection. You and your Friends contributions will make an impact, whether donate or fundraise $5 or $500. Every little bit helps. www.facebook.com/WestiNdConnection
Shop WiNc Inclusion Center and westindconnection.com
Every purchase made at the WiNc Inclusion Center or at westindconnection.com empowers the programs that empower others to do great things for our community.
More of a hands-on kind of person? Sign up to Volunteer!
Volunteering brings people together to strengthen our community. It's a chance to give back, gain professional experience and promote personal growth and self-esteem. West iNd Connection and WiNc Inclusions Center is seeking volunteers for the for the WiNc Inclusion Center and Event support. No matter your skill set, there is a space for YOU! https://westindconnection.com/pages/volunteer-with-us