True Colors, Inc.

You might not know this, but tomorrow is my first official day back to work after a month away from the day-to-day realities of directing True Colors.  I come back tomorrow ready to rejoin the joyful, challenging, painful, and rewarding journey that makes up a career in queer youth advocacy.


The month was full. I was able to rest, re-connect with my wife and daughter, and deal with some family and health challenges. The time away also offered me the opportunity to do some reflection on my life, my work, and my relationship with you as a member of the True Colors family.  

The Two Most Important Things I learned:


1)    Although it is often hard for me to really OWN this, I realized that I have 
     made a
 difference in the world, especially for LGBTQIA youth, their families and
     their care-givers. 

2)      Just as importantly I realized that none of the work I have done would have been
      possible without the (literally) hundreds of folks who walked this road with me. 
I know in my deepest heart that I could not fulfill the mission that sustains me
      without people like you. 


It's funny. Our website address is OUR truecolors, rather than just True Colors, which is the agency's actual name. At the time, we chose that because True Colors was taken.  Over the course of the last month, I realized that OUR True Colors is really much more accurate. 

I am so grateful!


Whether you are a current or a past donor, conference volunteer, mentor, staff person, intern, member of the board of directors, you should know that your contribution has saved lives. 


Whether you have provided the financial resources we need to keep us going, or the sweat equity that makes the work possible, you have made a contribution that matters! 


  • Our mentors work day-to-day with LGBTQI adolescents in the mentoring program. Often, mentors are the ONLY people in our kid's lives who are not paid to care about them.  Adolescence is a drama laden time for most kids.  For our kids, there are the additional struggles not just with a 'non-traditional' orientation or gender, but with the lifelong scars of abuse, neglect and rejection. Mentors walk that treacherous road with their youth every day.  That changes lives. That makes a difference. Over the last five years, the mentoring program has directly  impacted the lives of over 200 LGBT youth in Connecticut!  Those of you who mentor make that possible.
  • The True Colors annual conference is the LARGEST LGBTQIQ conference in the world!  Conference volunteers literally make the conference possible.  If it weren't for the dozens of folks who labor all year, and the hundreds of folks who come together just for the event, we could not provide this life-changing experience! Over the years, volunteers have come in to help with mailings (5,000 at conference time, yikes!), office filing, inventory, clean, and the thousands of other little jobs that help us function.   Over the last 18 years, the conference has directly touched something like 25,000 people!  Imagine, LGBT youth who are now seniors in high school have ALWAYS had at least one place in the world where they were valued, affirmed, celebrated and respected.  Those of you who volunteer make that possible!
  • Did you know that we run all of our school based programming with interns and apprentices? It's a win-win. Interns get the experience and training they need and True Colors is able to provide much needed services -- Gay/Straight alliance advocacy, activist institute, GSA summits at a cost we can afford.  Those of you who are current or past interns or apprentices make that possible.  (I also love the fact that many, many of our interns have gone on to do amazing things and that we had a small role in making that happen.)
  • Over the course of the last 18 years, dozens of individuals have contributed as members of our board of directors. These dedicated volunteers have donated their time, their expertise, their money, their passion, their creative thinking, their ability to both support me and rein me in as necessary.  They do the 'unglamorous' behind the scenes work with budgets and policy and strategic plans and mission.  Their expertise and contribution is rarely noticed publically, but their impact is profound.  Without them, we couldn't exist as an agency, as a non-profit, and as the premier LGBTQIA youth serving program that we are.  Thos of you who are (or were) a member of the True Colors Board of Directors make that possible.
  • We began with an all-volunteer organization in 1993. We didn't start having paid staff until 1999 when I went from foundering volunteer to part time Executive Director.  Since then, the work has grown to the point where we now have five full time staff members. That staff is the glue that holds everything together.  Overworked, admittedly under-paid, these folks pour their passion and their determination to make a difference into the day-to-day activities that keep the agency going.  Every day is a cornucopia of drama, trauma, advocacy, intervention, training, support, referral, listening ear, occasional drudgery and scut-work. And every day, they come back and do it again. Those of you who are past or current staff make that possible.


True Colors has hundreds of people who support us financially.  100% of our board makes a financial contribution.  There are folks who have given virtually every year of our existence and others who have given for the first time this year.  Whether you are the anonymous donor who gave us $100,000 in 2008 or the young person who gave us $1.00 in our facebook friends campaign, I hope you know that you help us save lives. 


I've discovered over the last month that I make a difference in the world. And I've discovered that nothing I do would be possible without folks like you.  I am eternally grateful. 

I wish you and yours a wondrous, joyful, healthy, prosperous, and fulfilling 2011.  I look forward to returning to work with you.  Together, we are changing the world!


With much love and gratitude,

Robin McHaelen, MSW
(proud to be) Executive Director
True Colors, Inc.