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CARBONDALE, Ill. — If you’re looking for a way to help transgender people seeking to relocate from conservative, rejecting communities to accepting ones, check out the online art auction from the Carbondale Assembly for Radical Equity (CARE).

The auction will continue through 9 p.m. Saturday night. It’s part of a multi-faceted effort in this town of 22,000 known as “little Chicago,” in southern Illinois, to answer  regional need for communities that offer sanctuary or haven to transgender or nonbinary people. The new CARE group aims to generate funds that will subsidize food, lodging and apartment deposits for those who feel unsafe, unwelcome, or outright threatened in their current communities.

The bidding is open to anyone, anywhere.

“You do not have to be local to bid on items,” organizers wrote on their event page. “We are happy to ship things to you just for shipping cost.”

All proceeds from the auction, and an event Saturday night at the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship, will go toward transportation, food, lodging, and apartment deposits for transgender and nonbinary people fleeing unfriendly states or communities where they feel threatened or unwelcome.




CARE logo

All proceeds from the art auction benefit the Carbondale Assembly for Radical Equity.

Demand keeps increasing for CARE services, especially from people in Florida and Texas

Right now, CARE is helping two families that have already relocated to Carbondale. Another 15 are in communication with CARE to explore housing and job placement. Most of the inquiries are coming from Florida and Texas, says CARE co-founder Cassandra Coffey. At least one family from Iowa is seeking to relocate.

“The most important thing is to get the message out that we are welcoming, affirming and open to people coming and joining us in this city where they can in a safer space.”

The Rainbow Cafe LGBT+ Center is also supporting CARE’s efforts. Recently, the nonprofit helped one of the two relocating families by allowing its mailing address to be used for job applications, and subsidizing storage or moving costs, wrote the Southern Illinoisan.


Repose by Carolyn Hollabaugh

Repose, by Carolyn Hollabaugh, is among the pieces to be auctioned.

Art auction by Carbondale’s CARE features work by 42 regional, out-of-state artists

Rainbow Cafe and CARE recruited 42 artists from around Carbondale, and even out-of-state, to provide paintings, photography, stained glass, cards, woodwork, and other artwork for the auction.


Auction coordinator Carrie Vine, who heads Rainbow Cafe, said the auction features “art as diverse as our community.

“There are so many neat pieces, and it’s always amazing to me how awesome this community is in supporting each other.”

Among the items and artists featured:

  • Laurin Koneski, a ceramics and soft metal sculptor who donated a centerpiece featuring Jeff Bezos’ head in zombie form, and
  • an original drawing by 88-year-old artist Carolyn Hollabaugh, a professional artist for more than 40 years who started her career only after raising three children, wrote the Daily Egyptian
  • A Pride-themed watercolor of a stingray titled “Ray of Pride”  by artist Meagan Majors, who uses soft watercolors to portray the natural world
  • a retro photo of Carbondale’s historic Dairy Queen by photographer Jerry South of Chester, Ill.
  • a series of ethereal landscapes by artist Nathaniel Berger
  • Kendra Keefer, an instructor at Southern Illinois University who moved to Carbondale two years ago to find a more welcoming community for her nonbinary child. Keefer provides somber multi-media pieces that explore how trauma affects human and animal behavior

The fundraiser culminates in an evening event Saturday, featuring a community meal and live music by local musicians. Admission is $20; 100 percent of all proceeds from the evening and the art auction will go toward the need families CARE is helping.

Here are links to follow up on the information in this article:

(cover photo features background by artist Nathaniel Berger, and clockwise from top left: The Head of Jess Bezos by Lauren Korneski, Ray of Pride from Meagon Majors, nonbinary chainmail bracelet from Darion Breslau, portrait of Chadwick Boseman from Missouri artist Red Flannery Harkinson, and a photo of a pink rose from photographer Nina Wilson)