Village Board member Matthew Inouye is well-acquainted with the societal pressures and obstacles many LGBTQ+ and unhoused youth face. Not so long ago, he was estranged from his parents and facing homelessness, sleeping on friends’ sofas while attending college.

Through a queer studies class, Matthew learned about The Village and visited our Drop-In Center for Youth Services. There, he took a shower, ate a hot meal, met the staff, learned how to access resources, and turned his life around. With his classmates, he later produced an acclaimed drag show. Not long afterward, he was invited to become an employment specialist at the Drop-In Center, helping other young people with urgent needs like his.

That was five years ago. Today, Matthew, who identifies with he/him pronouns, works at The TransLatin@ Coalition as Public Policy and Community Engagement Coordinator. In 2021, in recognition of his past work at the Drop-In Center, he was appointed to a Youth Representative position on The Village’s Board of Directors.

Matthew strongly praises The Village’s outreach efforts to attract and engage youth, especially those who identify as LGBTQ+. “The Village meets LGBTQ+ youth where they are in the community,” he says. “It’s so important to have people who identify as LGBTQ+ working for us. It makes our youth more comfortable, and we can better build rapport.”

Matthew is working with Village staff and other Board members to find even more effective ways to reach vulnerable youth. “I really like the promotoras [community health workers] model of doing outreach,” he says. “We need to physically bring more immigrants, LGBTQ+ community members, and people of color into spaces where people congregate for celebrations and other big events.”

Matthew is passionate about creating positive change in the historically under-resourced San Fernando Valley. “After living here for more than ten years, I’ve developed a real relationship with the streets I’ve walked on and the people I’ve spoken to,” he observes.

“At The Village, we are change-makers on a personal level to those who need it, and we are change-makers on a macro level regarding what we’re doing in the community. So if folks want to get involved or provide resources, time, and energy, they are investing directly in the lives of people who need it the most.”

“It’s been an interesting journey,” he continues. “As a member of the Board, I’ve gotten to know the organization on a deeper level, such as finances, new Village initiatives, and programs. I’ve been getting to know the other Board members, and it’s been a real pleasure. I feel privileged to work with The Village, and I’m proud to be a member of their Board.”