RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — There is a mural on the wall at ROSMY that is as colorful and diverse as the young people who created it.
“It’s a chance for LGBTQ youth to sort of realize that there’s other people like them out there,” Executive Director Ted Lewis shares ROSMY’s mission.
ROSMY was founded in 1991 to offer a safe place to connect and have conversations about sexuality and gender. Over the years, it evolved into a Richmond youth center that now offers four support groups, along with a program in Charlottesville.
“It’s just sort of been one of those constants, that place that I can come back to, and now I’m grateful that I can give back,” explains Sarah Milston.
Milston has a 21-year relationship with ROSMY, first as a youth, then staff member, group facilitator and board member. She has seen how it has saved and changed the lives of everyone who has walked through the door.
“It was really the only place I could go and have my identity be respected, have people call me by the name I wanted to be called, be able to talk about things relevant to me,” remembers Zephyr Acosta-Lewis.
Acosta-Lewis started going to ROSMY for camaraderie seven years ago and now works with middle-schoolers as a peer mentor.
“Not just talk about who they are, be accepted unconditionally for who they are,” Acosta-Lewis describes the goal of the support group and ROSMY as a whole.
Adds Lewis, “For many of our youth, they may be one or one out of two people in their middle school or high school. And so coming here and finding that someone else that’s their age has a similar experience can be very powerful.”
ROSMY was named a Valentine History Maker in 2009, and the award is displayed prominently at the Richmond youth center.
“I already knew ROSMY was a History Maker, but then to have it recognized by The Valentine, by the broader community was a fabulous moment,” Milston says.
8News is once again a proud sponsor of The Valentine History Makers Awards. The 2016 winners will be honored at a ceremony on October 18. Follow this link for more information about the celebration.