SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – On Wednesday, local leaders and some big names gathered to reveal major developments from a local non-profit organization.
With the help of Apple, the Utah Jazz, and other companies in Utah Valley, Encircle, which provides homes and outreach for the LGBTQ+youth community has completed a campaign that will open 8 new houses across the region.
Encircle, whose motto is “No Sides, Only Love,” was created in Utah with the goal of bringing together families and communities, to enable LGBTQ+ youth to thrive in life.
The announcement comes during the opening day of the Silicon Slopes 2021 summit, speakers included Utah Governor Spencer Cox, Founder, and CEO of Encircle Stephanie Larsen, Apple CEO Tim Cook among many other big names. Utah Jazz minority co-owner Dwyane Wade, who shares a personal connection to the LGBTQ+ community as his daughter is transgender, expressed the vital need for organizations like Encircle.
“You have to go in and see the vision and feel the energy inside Encircle, you have to go in and see the vision” said the former Miami Heat player.
Local leaders from some of Utah’s biggest tech giants also had a hand in building these new homes Marina James of Utah County’s DOMO says “It’s heartbreaking to know that there are people in our community who don’t feel loved or accepted and I think people don’t know how to support or help others, that’s why I think this work is so important.”
Encircle addresses the issues of dealing with loneliness and high rates of suicide frequently experienced amongst LGBTQ+ youth and young adults. Apple CEO Tim Cook believes the organization serves a purpose for all people.
“I understand what it feels like to be isolated and like you can’t share your truth with anyone it’s not easy when you’re made to feel different or less than because of who you are or love” said Cook.
Founder and CEO of Encircle Stephanie Larsen shared her gratitude for those helping to inspire hope and change for the LGBTQ+youth. “It’s powerful what can change when we bring tech, sports and business together we can create powerful change and thanks to these leaders who are standing by these kids telling them they have a bright future,” says Larsen.
She adds that the more communities Encircle can enter, the more LGBTQ+youth the organization can serve.