With the all-inclusive L3C learning/community service organization Dedicated to Make a Change, Executive Director Gail Wolkoff is changing that perception and is giving teens the tools they need to make a better future.
But it's the pro-teen ideology of Wolkoff
that makes the difference to its members.
"I think Gail is one of those rare people who will openly say, 'I like adolescents,'" DTMAC member Max Bonilla said.
and a lot of the other adults that have worked with Dedicated to Make a Change are people who consider that somebody that is a teenager or an adolescent has ideas and has a mind and can think and be a human."
In a world where even the Muppets on Sesame Street aren't safe from bullies, DTMAC is a much needed organization.
And even though its services are needed, trying to succinctly define exactly what they do is difficult.
The organization provides volunteer opportunities, GED support and after school program, among other things.
The only difference is that instead of traditional outreach methods, Wolkoff
focuses on creating spaces of safety for queer and non-queer teens to organize, learn, do and enjoy a few cookies along the way, all without judgment.
"My goal is to create safety and from that safety, plan out activities," Wolkoff
is "helping to show how to organize and how to learn, how to create change.
Although Wolkoff is the executive director, the teens are empowered to bring ideas of what they want to do.
With the help of the Jim Toy Community Center, Status Sexy and the HIV/AIDS Resource Center
and a few other forward-thinking adults, she
works to help the teens help themselves and others.
But for Wolkoff
, making the difference in the lives of the teens and the people they help, is something she
"I have to," she
said, "I love youth.