It’s been another busy month for Hagerstown Hopes. We’ve survived the snow and polar vortex and we’re excited to update you on our progress in several initiatives!
We just hosted our first open meeting at our community center, the Hagerstown Hopes Hub! We hold open board meetings every other month to give the community a chance to meet us, learn more about our work, and to get involved. This was our first meeting at the Hub and we’ve been eager to show off our space. Located in Mulberry Lofts, the Hub is the center of our activities. We’ve hosted meetings with FreeState Justice and smaller events (finding enough seats is always a concern for large gatherings), and we’re happy to finally be able to welcome the community into our home.
In case you missed the open meeting, there are still chances to see the Hub. We are incredibly happy that we are hosting free HIV testing, provided by the Washington County Health Department, at the Hub! We’ve addressed the many issues and concerns that come with health care services and we think that everyone will be happy with what we’ve come up with. Anonymous scheduling is available through our website (Hagerstownhopesmd.org) and goes directly to the health department. After scheduling, an anonymous code is given to be presented to the health care workers. The Hub is the waiting area and testing and counseling will be provided in a separate, private location in the building. None of the board and committee members will be present during testing, and our volunteers have signed confidentiality agreements. Testing is currently available twice a month, so be sure to schedule your free HIV test soon!
We’ve also made progress with our youth group and LGBTQ prom. We’re using social media to provide resources to the youth in our community, and our youth group will begin meeting soon. The LGBTQ prom initiative will be planned by the youth in the community, and we’ll provide guidance and resources as needed. Stay tuned for more information!
We’re also happy to have been given an opportunity to support our local trans, non-binary, and gender-expansive community. Shepherd University recently reached out to us for help in their upcoming VDay campaign. VDay is a global campaign to end violence against women and is popular on college campuses. The campaign centers around a production of The Vagina Monologues and, because the goal is to end violence against all women, includes a monologue written for trans women. We put the word out to the community and are happy that Shepherd’s production will be inclusive and the monologue, which is a bit outdated, is being revised to better represent the trans, non-binary, and gender-expansive community. Meanwhile, we’re working behind the scenes to host an info session and discussion as part of the VDay campaign. This is a very fluid situation and we are trying to respond to the needs of the community. The session will be Sunday, February 17th. Stay tuned for details!
Our trans meet up group is still up and running! This is a currently a closed group and is available to members of the trans, non-binary, and gender-expansive community. Meeting times and location are shared privately to protect the safety and privacy of those attending. For more information, message us on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also have a number of events coming up. There will be another Night Out soon (check our website and Facebook for details), a drag bingo event, and more! We’ll be participating in the National Trans Visibility March on April 1st, and Hagerstown Pride is scheduled for July 13th. Mark your calendars!
As always, please like and follow us on Facebook, or visit us at Hagerstownhopesmd.org to stay up to date on all we’re doing, and to get involved. We look forward to meeting you!
- 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.