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Houston Gaymers Provide “Healthy Distraction” to Patients at Texas Children’s Hospital

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LGBT social group donates 21 handheld Nintendo consoles using funds from Bunnies on the Bayou. 

By Cameron Wallace

Members of the Houston Gaymers donated 21 Nintendo 2DS consoles to Texas Children’s Hospital on Friday morning as a part of a philanthropic initiative called Project Blue Shell.

Rosland Verg, child life activity coordinator at Texas Children’s Hospital who received the donation, said the gaming consoles will give patients something positive to think about.

“I feel that healthy distraction—and I feel that gaming is a healthy distraction—does help promote healing faster,” Verg said. “Being here at the hospital, it gives [patients] some comfort of home. Being in a hospital is very stressful, and it helps keep them calm.”

gaymers2The Houston Gaymers, which was founded in 2009 and became a nonprofit in 2014, is a social organization for LGBTQ people and allies. The group began with a few friends meeting at a local coffee shop in Midtown, but now regularly sees more than 50 members at its monthly gatherings.

As it grew, the Gaymers started bringing in enough revenue through grants and donations to develop a sizable service component. The group began by creating its own annual Toy Drive to support the Texas Children’s Hospital, and later started volunteering with the Extra Life program, which benefits the Children’s Miracle Network by recruiting participants to game for 24 hours to raise donations. Project Blue Shell, the initiative to give away Nintendo 2DS gaming systems, is the group’s largest service project to date.

“The nonprofit is just our way of giving back to the community,” said Kymberlie McGuire, a Houston Gaymers member of eight years. “It’s been a natural outreach, since we like games, and gaming helps to heal people.

“Up until a few years ago, everything was out of pocket,” McGuire added. “Now we can get donations and grants, so we’re hoping to really give back to the community with that.”

The Gaymers received grants of $4,500 from Bunnies on the Bayou in 2015 and 2016 to fund Project Blue Shell. This year, the Gaymers received $18,000 dollars from OKRA Charity Saloon, which will be used to continue Project Blue Shell and for other service projects including scholarships.

So far, all donations from Project Blue Shell have gone to Texas Children’s Hospital. But the Gaymers hope to expand the program to other recipients in the Houston community, such as women’s shelters and LGBT youth groups.

The Gaymers host a regular meetup on the fourth Saturday of every month at Guava Lamp, as well as a smaller Handhelds Connect! meeting on the first Monday at a different local eatery each month. For more info, visit HoustonGaymers.com.

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Cameron Wallace

Cameron Wallace is a Rice University student and an intern for OutSmart Magazine.
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