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Charitable fund will benefit homeless LGBTQ+ teens

A new fund at Akron Community Foundation will support programs for LGBTQ+ teens who are facing homelessness in Greater Akron. 

The Michael Hohman Fund for Homeless LGBTQ Teens was established in May 2019 by Cuyahoga Falls resident Deborah Strobel in memory of her brother, who took his own life in 1981 at age 22. 

“Michael came out and grew up in the turbulent 1970s,” Strobel said. “We’ll never know the reason, but I’ve always felt being gay was a part of his struggles. Although things have improved greatly since then, we still have a long road ahead of us.”

Decades later, LGBTQ+ youth continue to face unique challenges, including experiencing homelessness at disproportionately high rates compared to their straight, cisgender peers. Research shows that up to 40% of all homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+, despite representing only 7% of the general youth population. 

“I can’t imagine what it’s like to be either homeless or LGBTQ+,” Strobel said. “When I discovered I could create a fund that would combine both issues, I jumped at the chance.”

Instead of making a one-time, lump sum gift to the Gay Community Endowment Fund, Strobel chose to endow a charitable fund at Akron Community Foundation that will benefit GCEF year after year in her brother's name. Every year, the income from her fund will be distributed to GCEF to support grants to programs that improve the lives of homeless LGBTQ+ teens in Greater Akron.

Strobel's vision for the Hohman fund aligns with the Gay Community Endowment Fund's recently announced grantmaking priorities. This year, GCEF awarded its first impact grants, including a $10,000 grant to CANAPI to address the youth homelessness crisis. Going forward, support from the Hohman fund will allow GCEF to increase its grantmaking in this key focus area.

Ultimately, Strobel said she plans to grow her fund by including it in her estate plans. But in the meantime, she’s delighted to know it will start making a difference in people’s lives now.

“No child should struggle because of their identity,” Strobel said. “However this fund can be used to improve the plight of this community – whether it’s to help with shelter, food, clothing, education or to improve acceptance and self-image – I will be forever grateful.”

To make a gift to the Michael Hohman Fund for Homeless LGBTQ Teens, visit www.akroncf.org/give/HohmanFund.