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"We want young LGBT people with disabilities to be able to get help - a lot of kids feel they have to hide their gayness when they're in a disability setting, and it's hard to communicate in a gay bar when you have hearing loss. Our goal is to encourage others to give to the Fairy Godfathers Fund so we have more resources available for LGBT disability issues."
Horizons Foundation offers donors the opportunity to create named funds within the LGBT Community Endowment Fund, either as part of their own legacies or in honor of others. Each has its own story, often very personal and inspiring. One of these named funds, the Fairy Godfathers for LGBT Disability Issues Fund, was started in 2005 by Claudio Schnier in honor of Jack E. Bird and John L. Darby. Claudio’s mother - who had been friends with the couple for many years through their work for people who are hearing-impaired - had suggested that Claudio talk with John about working in nonprofit management. He soon became close friends with them, and they became Claudio's "fairy godfathers."
John and Jack first met at a party in 1959 and moved in together six months later. During their life together, John served as the executive director of the Hearing Society for 36 years and helped found the Rainbow Deaf Society in the 1970s. He also took part in the creation of Larkin Street Youth Services in the 1980s. Jack worked as the controller of a major corporation and volunteered as the accountant for the Hearing Society - "Not that I had much choice if I wanted to see John," he joked. He served on the board of Men's Associated Exchange (MAX) as well. They both remain active volunteers at San Francisco Towers, where they've lived since 1998. The Fairy Godfathers Fund they inspired is dedicated to creating a world in which LGBT people with disabilities are able to participate fully and equally in all aspects of community and society. Grants from the fund will focus especially (though not exclusively) on LGBT people who live with hearing impairments. Jack and John want to encourage others to give to the fund to increase the resources available for LGBT disability issues, from expanded services for LGBT youth to more training for social workers, nurses, doctors, and people who work with seniors.
"Our goal for the fund is for LGBT people with disabilities to get the services they need," said John. "People get tunnel vision about these things, like you can't possibly be gay and disabled. Many agencies are somewhat homophobic and don't do much outreach to LGBT people. At the same time - and I hate to say it - the LGBT community often goes by appearances and has difficulty dealing with physical limitations." Jack and John see themselves as bridges, both between the gay and straight worlds and between disabled and non-disabled people. "We're just part of normal life," said John, "and we wouldn't want it any other way."
To contribute to the Fairy Godfathers Fund, mail a check to Horizons Foundation at the address below (and mention that it is for this fund) or give to the fund online.
To learn more about how planned giving can make a critical difference for you, the people you love, and your community, please contact Deb Stallings, Director of Development and Gift Planning, at 415.398.2333 x103 or firstname.lastname@example.org.