Hagerstown Hopes had a great holiday season, and we thank you for being a part of it! Now we’re gearing up for a new year, following the recent success of the Snow Ball and Silent Auction. The annual holiday show and personal project of Nicole James, reigning Miss Gay Maryland America, brought the community together for a night of fun with proceeds generously benefiting Hagerstown Hopes. Santa visited for selfies, items were auctioned, and over twenty performers gave us their all in a fun and memorable show. When it was all said and done, the community raised over $10,000 to support the LGBTQ+ community, which I’m told is a new record.
This is great news for us, not only financially but because it shows that our community is coming together and supporting one another. We are here to serve the community and have been blessed to have been supported by so many of you. Looking back at the last year, it’s heartening to know that so many people have seen a need for change in our community – a need for services and resources that simply aren’t available for members of our community. We thank you for your continued support, and we’re happy to announce the progress we’ve made on several of our initiatives.
After many meetings and discussions, we are finalizing plans to offer free HIV testing at our community center (the Hagerstown Hopes Hub), provided by the health department. Privacy and confidentiality are important, so we’ve taken steps to ensure your testing experience is as comfortable as possible. Board and committee members will not be present at the Hub, and our website will have a calendar for you to schedule your test directly with the health department. Once scheduled, you will receive a confidential code to bring with you for your test. There will be a waiting area and a private testing and counseling area in a separate location. We expect to begin offering free testing in February, so be sure to follow us on Facebook for more information.
We’re also happy that we’re making strides in youth outreach. This spring we will be hosting an LGBTQ+ prom for our youth. The prom will be planned by our youth and members of local GSAs and we will provide guidance when needed. The prom and its planning is also a great way to launch our youth group, which will be beginning in the coming months.
If you follow us on Facebook, you may have seen that we recently volunteered to help Children in Need sort donations. Children in Need is a great organization and we’re happy to support them. It seems like opportunities to get involved in the community have been popping up, so be sure to check in with us on Facebook or our website (hagerstownhopesmd.org) to see what we’re up to and how you can get involved!
It’s an especially good idea to get connected now because we have upcoming events you’ll want to know about! There will be another Night Out in February. Join us for food, drinks, and a chance to get to know some new people! We also have a Grease-themed drag bingo coming up on March 31 (the musical, not the lubricant), and if it’s half as good as the Golden Girls-themed bingo I can guarantee a great time! We’ve also set a date for Hagerstown Pride! Come join us Saturday, July 13 for our annual Pride festival. We’re already in the process of planning and we think this year will be extra special. Stay tuned for details!
As always, please like and follow us on Facebook and visit us at hagerstownhopesmd.org for our full events calendar and updates. We hope to see you soon!
- Brian George Hose has been an advocate for LGBTQ persons and issues all his adult life. He holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Shepherd University and looks forward to pursuing a Master's of Social Work with a focus in mental health. A former musician, Brian served as minister of music for New Light MCC for several years and incorporates music into social work practice. He lives in rural Western Maryland where he has amassed a sinful number of books, yarn, and books about yarn. He has been writing for Baltimore Out Loud since February 2016.