On a cold morning last month in Pasco, Washington—despite nearly six inches of freshly fallen snow—more than 40 people came together to develop an action plan to create supportive and safe spaces for LGBTQ students in the Educational Service District (ESD) 123, which educates more than 70,000 Washington students.

As someone who has lived in Central Washington for the last 15 years, I can’t help but reflect on how far we’ve come when I see a rural school district embracing LGBTQ youth and their needs.

This was just one of the inspiring experiences I had during my first 100 days as the Regional Development Organizer in Eastern and Central Washington.

Since stepping into this role in September, I’ve heard about the successes, challenges, and hopes of supporters, donors, and community partners in Wenatchee, Yakima, Spokane, Cheney, Walla Walla, and the Tri-Cities.

As I meet people across our state, I hear not only of the passion for the work we are doing together, but also about the history, progress, goals, and fears in anticipation of potential political changes.

In my first 100 days, I was also delighted to celebrate Pride Foundation’s 2016-2017 Eastern and Central Washington first-time grantee organizations—Greater Spokane Progress, Community Pride Walla Walla, JM Perry Institute of Trades Industries and Agriculture, and Yakima Neighborhood Health. Multiple celebration events throughout the state served as additional reminders of the passion and the strength of community that we have in this area.

I have hope for the next 100 days and beyond because of the unity I’ve seen in the face of uncertainty that many of us feel.

I look forward to the next 100 faces, names, stories, and conversations I will have and hear in my path forward, knowing that we will continue showing up for one another, person-to-person and community-to-community. This is why, and you are why, I was initially inspired to get involved with Pride Foundation and why I feel so blessed to be a part of this movement for change.

Tylene Carnell is Pride Foundation’s Regional Development Organizer in Eastern and Central Washington. Email Tylene.

Posted In: Blog, Blog, Connecting Leaders, Blog, Regional, Blog, State-Specific, Blog, Washington