Lavender Community Pride Award for LGBTQ Individual – Tito Catuncan
Tito Catuncan. Photo by Mai Choua Thao
The Lavender Community Awards go to someone who demonstrates not only a clear dedication to our community but also to the continued advancement of the community, and that is exactly what Tito Catuncan spends his time doing. Catuncan began his involvement with Avivo, a nonprofit that provides a full spectrum of chemical and mental health services, after applying to be a Housing Case manager position after being referred there by one of his classmates. It was there that Cantuncan began his work with helping adults who were experiencing long-term homelessness both find maintain housing, managing their house subsidies and connecting them with various resources to pursue goals.
“I learned so much about what contributes to homelessness and a lot of trauma, addition, mental health issues, and other struggles experienced by people experiencing homelessness have to wrestle with,” he explained. “I also had to work with some young adults of color from the LGBTQ+ community find housing and connect them with services and resources that were culturally responsible to their needs.”
Cantuncan transitioned into a new role as a Mental Health Case Manager where he works with adults diagnosed with severe and persistent mental illness pursue their goals while simultaneously working towards recovery. He’s worked with clients on supporting their gender transitioning, name change paperwork, and finding LGBTQ+ responsible treatment options for their mental health and chemical health needs.
When Cantuncan isn’t working at Avivo, he spends his time with PFund where he serves on one of their committees in which he helps in selecting LGBTQ folks demonstrating leadership in their communities in the Upper Midwest to receive scholarships to celebrate their work.
“I have been on the board now for 3 years and helped with facilitating scholarship review committee sessions, chairing an executive director search, and making sure the organization continues to serve populations in the LGBTQIA community that we consider to be our “Elevated Priorities:” 1) Indigenous, Black, and People of Color; Undocumented, First Generation, Immigrants, and New Americans 2) Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Communities and 3) LGBTQ North and South Dakotans.”
The future is bright for Cantuncan who aspires to be a trauma therapist and continue working with people of color, the LGBTQ community and those in society who have experienced various forms of systemic, generational, historical and individual trauma.
“I hope to help people heal so that we can continue to change the world and make it be a safe, empowering, and embracing place for all, no matter your gender, sexual orientation, sexuality, race, ethnic background, culture, or personal history,” he explained. “I would define success as accomplishing or achieving a goal that you identified that will bring you wholeness and fulfillment for yourself that you can then spread to others to achieve their own fulfillment.”