The Transformation of Bobcat Pride Scholarship Fund

todayJuly 30, 2023 44

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By Danielle De Lucia 

News Reporter

SAN MARCOSRep. Erin Zwiener recognized the Bobcat Pride Scholarship Fund with a resolution representing their decades of service to San Marcos’s LGTBQIA+ community at a San Marcos Queer Council in June.

Collage including the BPSF resolution with Heather Aidala and Rep. Erin Zweiner at the San Marcos Queer Council Event last month. | Provided by Heather Aidala

Mission and Vision of BPSF

BPSF is a nonprofit organization used only for charitable purposes. The BPSF is the Jeremy O. Torres Emergency Stabilization Fund that supplies monetary support to adults who identify as LGBTQIA+, living in the San Marcos area.

BPSF is not affiliated with Texas State University, however, the fund does provide for some students that attend TXST as well as Austin Community College. The scholarship is funded by charitable donors (individuals and small businesses) and fundraising events supported by the local communities.

The two services not usually provided by BPSF include food and utility services. Those who qualify are referred to Hays County Foodbank, which is affirming to those in the LGBTQIA+ community. Also, if possible in the resident’s city for utility assistance, then that is strongly encouraged.

“This way they can use our funding for rent, transportation, medical and sometimes vet bills that are unexpected, other agencies would not cover these expenses,” said Heather Aidala, a founding member and executive director of BPSF.

The vision of BPSF is to recognize “people of all minority sexual and gender identities experiencing systemic oppression. Therefore, BPSF aspires to empower future societal contributions by helping these individuals address unforeseen financial barriers,” BPSF website page.

BPSF’s Timeline

Originally, the scholarship started as an academic and leadership development application for queer Bobcats only.

“We started the fund in 2010 because there was a group of us still affiliated with TXST and part of the Allies Program, we knew that culturally we were making progress with making the environment more inclusive,” said Aidala.

In 2013, after a discussion with the donor community, the academical focused transferred to the Emergency Stabilization Fund. The scholarship at this time was still only eligible for TXST queer community. In 2016, Jeremy O. Torres passed.

“He had been a really close friend and part of BPSF staff, so we renamed the fund after him,” said Aidala In 2018, BPSF closed down.

The money was then transitioned to another non-profit. The non-profit happened to be TXST, which created the LGBTQIA+ Endowment Scholarship for overseas.

“It was great support for queer Bobcats at TXST, but the need for our community is even bigger than just people that are just students,” said Aidala.

In 2019, the BPSF rebloomed with a focus specifically on the Jeremy O. Torres Emergency Stabilization Fund. When COVID-19 hit in 2020, “it was serendipitous that we could then be there for many of our community’s young adults struggling through this time,” said Aidala. Aidala gives gratefulness and praise to those in the community that partners with BPSF. Their help contributed to the expansion of the fund. Today, the BPSF reaches the entire community, including adults who do not attend college.

Resolution by Texas State Representative Erin Zwiener

Late last month, Rep. Zwiener and her Chief of Staff, Miguel Arredondo surprised the BPSF board members with a resolution. Rep. Zwiener presented the resolution at a San Marcos Queer Council Event that was hosted by the BPSF organization.

“San Marcos Queer Council is comprised of representatives from all the local LGBTQIA+ organizations in the city, including allies who want to give their time,” said Aidala.

The purpose of the event was to start the conversation about the recent Texas Legislation that has been passed in regard to the LGBTQIA+ community.

“I felt very honored that BPSF is recognized, we have been part of this community for 13 years. It takes a Rep. like herself that is an advocate … Representation matters when someone sees your community they are going to acknowledge you. That was a really special gift from them,” said Aidala.

“It is such a tremendous gift to be able to recognize folks’ work and to have a platform that is meaningful to them. I greatly enjoyed joining them and being to give my own congratulations to them on their positive work for the LGBTQIA+ community,” said Rep. Zweiner.

The hope is that this resolution will bring more awareness and help to the LGBTQIA+ individuals in the San Marcos area.

If you are someone applicable for the BPSF, here is the website page request form: Bobcat Pride Scholarship Fund – Apply

Written by: Preethi Mangadu

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