Rockton Pride began in June of 2023 after forming as a support system for all who are in the community of LGBTQ+ and allies.

Reflecting back – A kick-off party was held at Rockton’s Village Green park on July 14 of 2023, following a virtual presentation by Drag Queen Krystal Ball on the “Art of Drag.”

That day “Rockton Pride” became a charter, and later became a 501-C3 Charitable organization.

Forward to May 31 of 2024 where Rockton Pride held a kick off event at Roscoe Township Community Center. Speakers who shared their stories were: Rockton Pride President – lifelong Rockton resident, Hononegah Community High School alumni and volunteer – Jessica Green, Program Support Chair of the LIAM Foundation- Eden Brown, and Kelsey Hood-Christensen – President and CEO of Rock County Family Services.

Rockton Pride marched in the 2023 Rockton Christmas Walk parade, and on June 1 they were one of over 50 participants in the first Rockford Area Pride Parade, helping to kick off “Pride Month of 2024.”

The parade was chaired by Rockford Pride Chair and HCHS alumni Andrew Mertzenich.

Rockton Pride teamed up with the Rockton United Methodist Church to hand out candy during the Village of Rockton’s Main Street Trick or Treat, trunk or treat events.

On Saturday, June 22 they are keeping it chill at “Rockton’s Quiet Pride Picnic.” All are invited to join the fun from Noon to 3 p.m. in Hononegah Forest Preserves Bird Grove shelter. Hours of fun are promised through fun activities, chill vibes, snacks, in a family friendly environment. Take in nature and meet new friends.

Rockton Pride shows support of The Yellow Brick Road Organization, Freedom fest, The Trevor Project and of educational pathways.

The LIAM Foundation (Love, Integrity, Advocacy and Mentorship) in Rockford started in 2015 after Harlem High school student Liam Burdick came out as transgender. He and his Mother started a PFLAG Chapter in the Rockford area.

The Foundation is the stateline’s first and only LGBTQIA plus resource center.

They provide valuable resources and support plus educational services. The foundation carries on today in loving memory of Liam who passed away from suicide in 2018.

Rockton Pride shared booth space at the Rockton River Market with Inkwell Books and Threads.

Inkwell partnered with Rockton Pride to host the “Pride in Bloom” event last March.

Rockton Pride communicates regularly with the HCHS Gay Straight Alliance Club.

They honor the memory of friends who have passed away. On June 11 they remembered those who lost their lives in a shooting at the “Pulse” Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

In recent months, Rockton Pride President Jessica Green approached the HCHS Board of Education in hopes that they would consider placing all gender signs on the restroom doors in the school.

In late May Green asked the Village of Rockton for permission to allow businesses in town to hang Pride flags to recognize Pride month.

Rockton Pride is now offering a unique scholarship.

Stated in the application is the purpose of Rockton Pride, which is to promote the social welfare of individuals identifying as members as the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and or queer community and its allies within and around the Rockton, Illinois area.

Rockton Pride is firmly dedicated to the principle that all people are entitled to a full and equal measure of dignity, justice, freedom, and opportunity regardless of sexual orientation, sexual identity, race, religion, creed, national origin, ethnic background, age, political persuasion, color, sex, marital status, with regard to public assistance, familial status, health or a disability.

This scholarship fund was generously donated to Rockton Pride by an anonymous donor in hopes of helping individuals in the LGBTQIA community (Winnebago County) to further their education.

The group is not looking for the student with the highest academic achievements, nor are they looking for students with impressive resumes. Instead, the scholarship was established to provide an opportunity for underserved and underrepresented individuals to share their stories and to be awarded funds to use toward their educational future.

This scholarship is open to all ages who are looking to continue their education whether in the trades, graduate school, a four-year university, community college or where other opportunities are to learn.

The deadline to fill out and to return the application form is on June 21, 2024 at midnight. Applications must be filled out entirely, with an essay to be considered.

The scholarship committee will convene the following week to review applications and to conduct interviews. After interviews have been completed recipients will be notified. Awards in the amounts of $500-$1,000 will be given based on the applications that are received. A ceremony will be held to present the scholarship checks on July 20. The time and place will be announced closer to the event.

Rockton Pride’s privacy policy states: “We understand that many individuals who identify in the LGBTQUI community may not be out to their families, friends or communities. We don’t want this to be a barrier to applying for our scholarship.

“Your story, name, and identity will be kept completely confidential if requested in the application form. Your information will not be shared outside the scholarship committee or with any media outlets.

“If you are recipient of the scholarship and request confidentiality the funds will be sent as a “Continuing Education Scholarship.”

Representatives from Rockton Pride add, “We are excited to be entrusted with this opportunity to give back to our community, and hope to continue this on a yearly basis.”

To apply follow the links on the Rockton Pride Facebook page for the Scholarship Cover Letter and the Scholarship application.

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