Around Town

Give back: 4 Charlotte organizations that could use your time and dollars

You’ve done fun runs for a cause. You’ve created the web page begging family members to sponsor said fun run. You’ve done things in the name of charity, but deep down you know most of the money you are swindling from your Aunt Ida will go to the non-profit’s administrative costs instead of the actual cause.

That’s why giving to hyper local organizations is more satisfying — and more community enriching — than throwing money at a national organization.

Here are four Queen City organizations that value your time and dollars:

(1) Time Out Youth

While we are celebrating marriage equality, one glaring issue persists in the community — homelessness amongst LGBT youth.

A staggering 40 percent of all homeless youth identify as LGBT, per a national survey from The Williams Institute with True Colors Fund and The Palette Fund. Time Out Youth — TOY for short — provides host home services and group sessions for youth ages 11-20. These young people are so brave it brings me to tears.

My future life goal is to be a philanthropist who gives them wads of money. For now, I teach free writing classes and make them meals. Hint: Homemade macaroni and cheese.

How you can help: 

–  Donate money and/or your time by using a skill or talent you have to entertain the kids at one of their group sessions.

– Donate goods like toothpaste, toothbrushes and Target gift cards so when a youth comes in with an emergency, the agency will have things on hand.

Contact Info — Address: Time Out Youth, 2320 N. Davidson Street, Charlotte, NC 28205. Phone: 704-344-8335.

joanne sparato insta pic

(2) Girls Rock Charlotte

This local camp program for girls, which runs during the last week in July and has a final concert on August 1, has one goal: to build the self-confidence of girls and non-conforming youth through music education.

How you can help:

– Show your support by attending the concert at 7 p.m. Aug. 1 at McGlohon Theatre, Spirit Square.

– Donate your gently used music gear.

– Help teach. Girls Rock Charlotte is looking to expand its efforts. It is partnering with Behailu Academy in September to do workshops throughout the year for those who cannot attend camp.

Local female musicians will lead listening parties, jam sessions and workshops in the space Behailu Academy will donate once a month.

– Get involved with their teen mentorship programs.

Contact info:

(3) Lesbian and Gay Fund

This organization provides grants to Charlotte-area LGBT and LGBT-supportive organizations. That money comes from donations and sponsorships from supportive local businesses and individuals.

In 2014, the Fund gave more than $100,000 to organizations that applied and needed it most. Plus, their annual fundraising luncheon The Happening raises awareness about local causes.

How you can help:

– Donate money.

– Donate your time to volunteer at events like The Happening.

– Get involved in the organizations that they fund.

Contact info — Facebook:

(4) Speak Up Zine 

When we pass homeless people on the street, we either give them money or food. But what about hope? Let’s get them on their own two feet.

Street newspapers across America are created and sold by homeless people so they can earn a living.

Some of the stories in this magazine are remarkable in their simplicity and unflinching, first-person look at life on the streets.

How you can help: 

– Look out for a homeless person with a tag that says they are an official seller of Speak Up Zine. Give them a few bucks for a magazine — and take the magazine, don’t just give the money. You are rewarding the work they are doing.

Wristbands in! Look for a vendor selling them or come by the office.

A photo posted by Speak Up (@speakupmag) on Mar 3, 2014 at 10:33am PST

– Become a volunteer or intern for photography, editing and design.

– Get involved in fundraising and social services.

Contact info — Address: Speak Up Zine, 1515 S. Mint St., Charlotte, NC 28203; Phone: 704-980-9885; Email:

Joanne Spataro cover photo
Joanne Spataro  @lookitsjoanne