In the digital age, where most students are connected through social media but feel disconnected in real life, a group of students in Suttons Bay, MI, are making a difference with a new club: SB HumanKIND.
SB HumanKIND is a one of a kind club that encourages both allies and those who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community to come and spend time together, listen to each other, and get involved in the surrounding community.
The LIFT team sat down with these students during one of their weekly meetings to discuss why the club was formed and learn a little more about them.
Sitting down and talking with these new friends immediately felt as though we were already part of their group. We were welcomed in as soon as we sat down, and they couldn't wait to share why they love this new club.
"Here's a group of people who are probably the bravest group of humans I've encountered in my career." Jessica Vitale, Suttons Bay school teacher and group organizer.
"It's a place to express themselves, learn, love, accept, and be treated with kindness," they said.
The individuals inside the club gave the answers to these questions.
What is the need for a club like this?
"I saw a lack of events and a lack of people talking about a club like this in our community. There are only a few small businesses that are supportive of everyone and inclusive, and a lot of people have families that aren't as accepting. We wanted to create an environment where people who normally aren't as accepted can come and have a moment of peace in a judge-free zone."
Why do you think more organizations should adopt this type of club?
"I would say in the beginning, be patient. A lot of people that need a club like this might take a little bit of time to come around. It can be hard for people to get here, and they might be nervous. Patience is huge. Even having the presence of a club like this will help people feel connected."
What are the benefits that you see from a club like this?
"There are so many things! Acceptance, kindness, and respect are huge parts of a club like this. It's important to have these groups so that people can become more knowledgeable. With lack of knowledge comes a lack of respect, and [we want to eliminate that]. This place is an opportunity for the [individuals] in this group to educate and make awareness. We want to make sure that these topics that we deal with aren't taboo and change starts small."
If you could explain the feeling you get from belonging to a club like this in one word, what would it be?
Was there something that happened that caused you to develop this idea?
During the summer of 2021, they decided they wanted to start a club to promote safety, love, and kindness around our school. We don't see any clubs like this, especially in Suttons Bay. There were many people in the school and in the community that could use the education and support and saw this as an opportunity to start something like this. So we came together with the SB school and community members and [started the club]. During the school year, we went around promoting the club to all the people who we thought might like to join."
What kind of activities do you do?
We are currently folding paper cranes for our very first fundraiser!! Paper cranes that people can send with a little message of kindness and a piece of candy. We are calling them Cranes of Kindess, and they are carrying little boxes of chocolate. We are selling the cranes to students, staff, and anyone who wants to buy one.
The Cultural Club at Suttons Bay Schools is helping to host this fundraiser. 50% of the profit is going toward the Trevor Project an organization supporting LGBTQ youth 24/7.
The other 50% is helping SB HumanKIND establish their first youth PRIDE event in conjunction with LIFT Teen Center in June.
What would you want to tell someone who wants to join a club like this?
"Take your time and come when you're ready because we're going to be here for a long time."
"You don't have to come presenting your identity. You can present as whatever you want to. You can come as an ally."
"It's like the witness protection program."
"There's a level of trust and respect and anonymity within this program."
"You can come out when you're ready."
"If someone wants to remain anonymous to everyone else but not the people in the club, we could do that."
The club meets every Monday at The Friendship Community Center after school from 3:45 PM - 4:45 PM.
Community members are welcome to stop by at any time to learn more about the club and the students that are a part of it.
If you have any questions, you can contact Jessica Vitale at 231 944 8085.