Anna Giangrande started as a mentor at the Louisville Youth Group (LYG) nine years ago and has since worked her way up to director of programming and operations.
She has a passion for helping others, and under her leadership, the nonprofit has thrived, reaching more young people with resources and a safe, social environment.
LYG began in 1990 to provide a safe place for LGBTQ youth to go each week. Every Friday evening, dozens of Louisville young people make their way to LYG to learn, laugh, socialize and, most importantly, just be themselves for a few hours.
It’s an important and much-needed organization, as statistics show LGBTQ high school students are more than twice as likely as their straight peers to attempt suicide. Also, these kids are likely to be bullied and even kicked out of their homes.
LYG is completely free to attend and offers many programs and special events, like camping and even a prom. In order to help fund the organization, LYG is hosting the third annual Glitter Gala on Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Highland Community Center. The event is for adults and features live entertainment, carnival-style games, drinks, food and much more.
The structure of the Glitter Gala is fairly casual and laid-back for a reason, says Giangrande.
“The idea of a 21+ adult carnival/picnic is our way of getting folks moving around, talking to each other, creating community, and having a party — all while helping to support an organization that is saving lives of our youth,” says the Cleveland native.
Some of the games include Plinko, a wine bottle ring toss from co-sponsor Old 502 Winery, and even a frog launcher. And entertainment includes DJ Blacklow, Uhstel Valentine, Louisville Vogue Knights, Mr. and Mrs. Kentucky Pride Festival, and Wil Heuser, who will give the keynote address.
For a donation of $50, you also get drinks in a color-change cup and snacks as well.
Giangrande says there also will be a silent auction, and one of the top items includes an evening with Chef Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia and Milkwood.
“Edward Lee is such a very kind and generous friend to LYG and the youth we serve,” she says. “He has given the chance to bid, in a silent auction, on a night with him — Edward will come to your house, bring a selection of wine from his personal collection, and cook dinner for up to 10 people.”
Asked what is most satisfying about her role with LYG, she points to the kids.
“I am lucky every day to have an amazing job that is extraordinarily rewarding,” she says. “The most satisfying part of my job is watching the youth grow and become leaders and agents of change in our community.”
When she’s not working for LYG, Giangrande also serves as gallery coordinator at StudioWorks by Zoom Group, an art gallery and studio for adults with developmental disabilities.
We caught up with Giangrande before Saturday’s big gala (tickets are still available) to ask her some very important questions …
What’s the most surprising thing on your Bucket List?
Besides being cool enough to be asked to answer your 7 Questions? I want to spend some time in Spain traveling around eating paella and drinking wine.
What poster was on your wall in junior high?
Pearl Jam … well, really, Eddie Vedder.
If you were mayor, to whom would you give the key to the city?
The brave-nosed folks who pick up our trash every week. They are true American heroes.
What are your preferred pizza toppings?
Pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms and olives.
If you could be any age for a week, what would it be?
I love a good coupon, so I would be old enough to get senior discounts at restaurants.
What famous person do people say you resemble the most?
I often have people tell me I look just like their one friend … but I have yet to meet this mystery one friend everyone has who is impersonating me. However, when I was younger I heard Toni Collette a couple of times.
Who would you most like to be stuck with in an elevator?
I really wished I could have had the courage to talk with Maya Angelou when I saw her once. The elevator would be the perfect opportunity for me to get over being a star-struck chicken.