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Clara Yoon, fearless fundraiser

Supporting gifted leaders

Both my husband and I are one-and-a-half generation Korean-Americans living in New York City. We have 21-year-old son. He is a good-looking, smart kid, and he was straight A student! Seven years ago, I knew something was wrong with my child when he started getting Bs on his report card. Then my son came out as male. You see, we believed we were raising a daughter for 14 years. But, in fact, his heart, mind, and spirit had always been of a boy, and he couldn’t hide that from us, or anyone, any longer. It took me and my husband about a year to come around and accept our son’s gender. I couldn't bear to think of my life without him or seeing him so unhappy. Our decision to support his transition helped him achieve a healthier, happier, and more fulfilling life.

In 2012 I founded the API Rainbow Parents of PFLAG NYC. It’s a unique initiative that supports LGBTQ individuals and families of Asian heritage, addressing language- and culture-specific needs of the API community and striving to build a bridge between generations and different cultural experiences. As I started to learn more about the nonprofit space, I soon realized that it would take serious funding to create meaningful and effective programs.

While I had donated to charity in the past, asking was another story… Just the thought of it gave me anxiety. Between 2012 and 2013, I was approached by the Dari Project, as well as activists in Korea, who wanted my help raising money for their work. Despite my fear, I stepped up and started making “the ask”. To my surprise, I realized that I actually enjoyed the process, and I wanted more! In my quest to become a better fundraiser, someone introduced me to a staff member of Stonewall Community Foundation. I shared my story and explained my desire to improve my fundraising skills, and they helped me enroll in a Stonewall-sponsored fundraising training. Through that program, I learned the fundamentals, practiced advanced techniques, and shed the last bits of fear I had. Now, I’m unstoppable.

In just a short time, I raised $2,500 to create a safe space for at-risk LGBTQ youth in Korea; close to $10,000 in The Center’s Cycle for the Cause to support their HIV/AIDS programming; more than $10,000 to organize the first Korean American LGBTQ seminar through Give Out Day; and a few thousand more to support a variety of programs, from coming out workshops to inclusive Full Moon Festivals.

I enjoy the work I do and am certainly proud to be in service to incredible causes. Above all, though, I am grateful for the community members, parents, friends, colleagues, and strangers who respond to my calls for action.

 
 
 

Daniel Padnos, Board Member

 

NY Transgender Advocacy Group

 

The Dad Fund, love in action

Center for Anti-Violence Education

 

Agnes Navaratne, game changer