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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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South Perry Blog

Odyssey open house draws lots of visitors

It was quite a party at Odyssey Tuesday evening. At 5 p.m. friends, youth and supporters began piling in for cake and snacks, visits and hugs.

Odyssey's mission statement is to work with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth and their allies, friends and families - and to provide a safe place for them to meet and grown.

Carla Savalli, the center's executive director, said the Perry Street neighborhood has been warm and welcoming to the center and to the youth.

"It's just been a great match for us here," Savalli said, while giving a short tour of the center. "The neighborhood is a little eclectic and our youth feel really safe here."

 

One young woman, Evelyn, who's a high school junior, said she found Odyssey about a year ago after moving to Spokane from Alabama.

"I Googled youth center and this was the first that came up. My dad just drove me and abandoned me here," she said, smiling. "It's at great place and it's nice to be around people who are like me."

She said Odyssey has helped make her move to Spokane smoother in every way.

"My favorite thing here is all ages night, when the younger and older groups here come together and socialize," said Evelyn. "It's good to be mentored by the older youth."

Odyssey is a non-profit organization and it has just launched a new fundraising program: Power of 10.

"The name is based on the fact that one in 10 people is gay," said Kelly Lerner, who is chair of Odyssey's board and calls herself "not the landlord, but the land-lesbian" because Odyssey rents it's offices from her.

Lerner explains that if Odyssey can get 1,000 people to each give $10 every month, then the center's basic funding needs.

"It's one martini or two cups of fancy coffee a month, we think people can do that," Lerner said, adding that at this point Power of 10 takes in about $500 a month. "You can sign up on our website or use PayPal or your credit card - whatever works for you."

And soon the place was full of people milling around the two-story center.

"I don't think we've had an open house like this before," said Evelyn, eyeing all the visitors. "This feels great."



Pia Hallenberg
Pia Hallenberg joined The Spokesman-Review in 2004. She is currently a reporter for the City Desk covering Spokane Valley city hall and community news. She also writes news features about people and events.

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