Working for South Florida’s LGBTQ Youth

Working for South Florida’s LGBTQ Youth

Julian Cavazos

By Denny Patterson

Julian Cavazos has worked as a volunteer and board member in the non-profit sector for the past 30 years. When he participated in experiential learning courses in 2006, he made a commitment to himself that one day he would make these courses and activities available for LGBTQ youth at no cost to them. Therefore, Julian’s Fountain of Youth (JFOY) was born. This non-profit organization creates opportunities for LGBTQ youth to partake in experiential learning activities, career development workshops, and life-enrichment strategies. Julian has dedicated the past year to making this organization a success. In addition, he, along with some friends, created a monthly event called the Marlin Beach Tea 2.0 where all proceeds benefit JFOY. I had the pleasure of chatting more with Julian about the success of JFOY, Marlin Beach, and what we can expect from the organization in the future.

Can you start off by telling me more about JFOY organization? What kind of work does the organization do, and what kind of programs are offered?

JFOY is a 501©(3) providing community services and support for the LGBTQ youth and youth groups both locally and nationally. We send local youth to camps around the country at no cost to them, host an annual six day retreat locally for 25 LGBTQ youth from around the country at no cost to them or their families, together with SunServe to host their LGBTQ Youth Pride Prom with over 175 youth participants, sponsored Trans Youth short story film, host monthly Youth Group Meet and Greets, and helped eight local LGBTQ youth get free eye exams and eyewear.

Tell us about your monthly event Marlin Beach Tea 2.0 that helps benefit the organization.

Marlin Beach Tea 2.0 is the result of me and a friend trying to create an event that would allow us to enjoy the beautiful South Florida weather while bringing community together to raise money for JFOY. We went to two different state parks and it was obvious we weren’t going to be able to create an event that would be profitable. It was then that I thought of creating an event at The Sanctuary Church courtyard outside of the auditorium on the Middle River. We put together a committee of over 20 local friends and together came up with the Marlin Beach Tea 2.0 concept. One hundred percent of the money made is donated to JFOY.

Why did you want to start this organization?

Several years ago, I took advanced experimental courses and decided at that time I wanted to create a non-profit that would make these courses available to LGBTQ youth free of charge. I also wanted to create a safe space for an all-inclusive youth group to come together.

FJOY is not the only non-profit geared towards LGBTQ youth, correct? How do you stand out from the other non-profits in the area?

We are not the only LGBTQ non-profit youth organization in South Florida. We differ from other organizations in that we are an enhancement to other LGBTQ non-profits, which is why we are invited to participate or speak at their group meetings.

The Marlin Beach Tea 2.0 event just celebrated its one-year anniversary. What were some of the highlights from the past year?

Marlin Beach Tea 2.0’s success is due to our amazing community and volunteers. I would have to say the highlight of the past year is not so much what the event did, but what our community did following the hijacking attempt of our event. It was amazing to see how our community came together to put a stop to it. The phone calls, emails, texts, and social media response was truly heartwarming.

What is JFOY’s goals for the next three to five years?

Our goals for the next three to five years are to increase the number of local retreats and participants and to send youth to four national camps a year.

How has JFOY been received by the community?

It has been really amazing to see how many local and national businesses and people have supported us by volunteering and donating. This is truly a dream come true for me.

How beneficial do you think the Marlin Beach Tea 2.0 event is?

I know that thanks to the Marlin Beach Tea 2.0 event, JFOY has been able to support youth both locally and nationally. When kids from West Virginia or South Carolina who have never been around like-minded youth come here and spend six days being able to be themselves and both supported and accepted by youth and adults alike, it makes all this hard work worthwhile. When I hear back from our youth who have participated in our camp in Provincetown, New York, or Los Angeles, and they tell me that they had the best time meeting other youth from around the country, it makes my day, month, and now year!

What would you say is the ultimate goal, vision?

My ultimate goal is acceptance. I want every child to know that regardless of their sexual preference, gender, or differences, they are accepted. Regardless of what they hear from someone who doesn’t, they are not alone, and they are loved. The feeling of acceptance and love conquers hate. My vision is of a place we can call home and feel loved by everyone, regardless of our sexual preference.

What do you hope to do to continuously make this organization a success?

I hope to continue sharing my vision for our LGBTQ youth with as many people as I can. I will continue to do all that I can to make sure Marlin Beach Tea 2.0 continues to be a fun event that people love to come to so that it enables us to continue our vision.

For anyone who would like to be involved, what can they do?

Anyone who would like to get involved in both our non-profit and Marlin Beach Tea 2.0 event should email me at Info@JFOY.org or call me at (954) 594-3437.

What’s next?

Our next Marlin Beach Tea 2.0 events are Sunday February 17 and Sunday March 17, 2109. Our youth will be performing at two local events, the Imperial Court Coronation Ball and a local Oscar event. We are excited about our upcoming events that support JFOY, like Julian’s Reverse Quinceanera, Bunnies on the River, the LGBTQ Youth Pride Prom, and, of course, Marlin Beach Tea 2.0.

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