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The Central Oregon Pride festival was at Drake Park on Saturday, June 25, and this year’s participants not only celebrated, they remembered.
Rita Schenkelberg, a student in the counseling graduate program at OSU-Cascades, has volunteered for Pride events for a number of years and was excited to be a part of Central Oregon Pride this year.
She said before the Orlando mass shooting on June 12, the Central Oregon Pride committee was caught up in typical festival-planning frenzy. After Orlando, they came back to the heart of Pride – to celebrate, to honor, and to unite against discrimination and violence toward the LGBTQ community.
Rita is starting her second year in the master of counseling program. She worked at a residential treatment center for children in Colorado before coming to Bend to attend OSU-Cascades. Rita is interning this year at the Kids Intervention and Diagnostic Service (KIDS) Center — a multi-agency, nonprofit facility dedicated to the prevention, evaluation and treatment of child abuse in Central Oregon.
"I love the challenging conversations you have in a graduate classroom," said Rita. "I think that's where the learning really happens."
At the Pride festival, Rita led the community art project – a ten-foot canvas mural created at the festival that will go on rotation at local businesses as a visual representation of community unity.
Along with the art project, Pride festival-goers enjoyed live music and food carts, attended workshops, and checked out more than 100 booths. There was also a memorial for the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting and on-site counseling was available.
“For me, it’s all about love, kindness and support,” said Rita.