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Celebrating YOU: Rogers Sports & Media All IN partner, Friends of Ruby, launches #YouWillYouAre in time for Pride Month

To celebrate Pride Month, Friends of Ruby, one of Rogers Sports & Media’s 2021 All IN partners, recently launched #YouWillYouAre – a campaign to raise awareness and inspire LGBTQI2S youth through engaging, authentic stories from within the community.

Friends of Ruby is a Toronto-based organization that focuses on supporting and providing a safe and welcoming environment LGBTQI2S people between the ages of 16 to 29 with counselling, housing, social events and practical resources. 

We spoke with Jill Oba (she/her), Director of Development and Marketing, to learn more about her role, Friends of Ruby, and the #YouWillYouAre campaign.

Tell us about yourself and your role at Friends of Ruby

My name is Jill Oba and I am the Director of Development and Marketing. I joined the incredible team at Friends of Ruby in early 2020, and I get the privilege to develop and connect meaningful relationships with individuals, corporate, foundations, and government partners with the incredible work our frontline teams are doing. Leading the fund development and direct marketing initiatives at Friends of Ruby means I am able to advocated and communicate Friends of Ruby’s mission and vision each and everyday – mobilizing programs that empower LGBTQI2S youth.

Can you share details on Friends of Ruby and what its mandate is as an organization?

Friends of Ruby is a mental health and housing services organization that is dedicated to the well-being of LGTBQI2S youth. We provide counselling, case management, social services to LGBTQI2S youth in the Greater Toronto Area. However, since supporting virtual/phone/text counselling services, we have been able to support LGBTQI2S youth across Ontario.

We envision a Canada where all LGBTQI2S youth are validated, engaged, and empowered to lead healthier lives.

Why is Friends of Ruby so important in the lives of LGBTQI2S youth?

Our goal is not to speak on behalf of the LGBTQI2S youth we are serving, but rather, Friends of Ruby aims to build safer community spaces that are welcoming, supportive, and have a positive impact for our community.

What is one thing you’d like youth to know about Friends of Ruby?

I want youth out there to know that Friends of Ruby meets youth where ever they are on their journey. All of our front-line staff: case managers, counsellors, and youth workers have the lived experiences and mental health and counselling training that supports the unique needs of LGBTQI2S youth

What is the #YouWillYouAre campaign all about? And, how does a campaign like this help LGBTQI2S youth?

#YouWillYouAre is Friends of Ruby’s Pride awareness campaign that is intended to engage supporters, youth, donors to share affirmations to youth, and their younger selves, and in turn, inspire others. ​The pandemic has proven to be an isolating time, especially for LGBTQI2S youth. We aim to amplify LGBTQI2S voices & real stories virtually during pride to build a sense of community and belonging with youth. We hope that our campaign helps LGBTQI2S youth who may be feeling isolated or alone know that there are members of our community who are still figuring it out, and that’s ok! No matter where they are on their journey – we are here for them.

The campaign showcases testimonials from individuals across many industries, what do you want to share with LGBTQI2S youth?

You will figure it out, on your own terms! You will be accepted for who you are.
You are bright, vibrant and loved.

Below are a sample of inspiring testimonials from the #YouWillYouAre campaign, and check out the #YouWillYouAre site for even more real-life stories, including one from KiSS 92.5’s Maurie Sherman later this month.

Learn more about Friends of Ruby and the campaign on their InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.