The Equity Fund of the Maine Community Foundation recently awarded $7,500 to Out!…As I Want To Be to hire a part-time staffer to establish collaborative relationships with other youth-oriented organizations and the community, and to launch a significant fundraising effort for the future. Dora Lievow was hired in February.

Out!…As I Want To Be has been serving young people on an all-volunteer basis for 15 years. Known as Outright for its first 10 years, Out! is a resource for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, queer and questioning youths aged 14 to 22 and their parents and allies.

“Our programs and activities are driven by the needs, ideas and energy of youth, who participate fully in decision-making at every level,” according to the Out! Web site. “At our weekly meetings: make new friends, see old friends, talk, laugh, play games, see movies, learn about GLBTQ life, discuss serious and not-so-serious issues.”

Coordinator Lis Clark and a rotating group of advisors provide a safe space two evenings a week (Wednesdays from 5 to 8 p.m. and Fridays from 6 to 9 p.m.) at Out!’s office upstairs at 501 Main St. Together, young people and an advisor prepare a meal served family style around a large table. Conversation and support is informal and comes as much from other young people, who are often isolated during their days at Rockland, Belfast, Mt. View, Camden, Medomak Valley or Georges Valley high schools.

Lievow, because of her former role as founder and director of The Community School’s residential program in Camden, is familiar with the needs and strengths of GLBTQ teens.

“My affinity with Out!’s mission is strong,” Lievow said. “And what could be more gratifying than to apply the skills I gleaned at The Community School to another critical resource for young people. Not only can I draw on our success in the organizational development of the school, but I can recall our mistakes and lessons learned!”

Lievow will be setting up meetings with the staff of nonprofits and will be working with GLBTQ young people to offer presentations to service groups, churches and high schools. To contact Lievow through Out!, visit outmaine.org.