Hagerstown Hopes has a lot to be thankful for and we want to thank the community for supporting us all year, but especially for helping us break a fundraising record at the recent Snow Ball & Silent Auction hosted by The Lodge. The holiday show, featuring 20-plus performers, has long been the pet project of Nicole James, reigning Miss Gay Maryland America, and has become a staple in our local community. This year, the community showed up for some great entertainment and to support Hagerstown Hopes, the beneficiary of the night.
In just three short hours, the community raised over ten thousand dollars, which I’m told is a new record. This says a lot about our community – in addition to being generous, we have a community that cares, that supports us and our work to make life better for LGBTQ persons in Hagerstown and the surrounding areas.
The evening included a silent auction with donations ranging from collectible Lennox glass to a flat screen TV. Harry Brubaker arranged for a visit from Santa, who posed for pictures to support our upcoming and newly-announced LGBTQ Prom, which will be held this spring for LGBTQ youth in Hagerstown and the surrounding areas. Our new Pride pins were available, featuring the rainbow and trans flags in support of our Trans Group, and a 50/50 raffle rounded out the evening.
We also had the honor of recognizing several individuals for their outstanding commitment to the community. Mark Fadely, co-chair of events, received the Hero of Hopes Award; Tim Luipersbeck (aka DJ Sidekick) received the Outstanding LGBTQ Citizen Award, and Nicole James (aka Jim Tyner) was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. These individuals are some of the many unsung heroes in our community who have volunteered their time and talents in service to others. Thank you for all you’ve done and continue to do, and for being the amazing, dedicated people you are!
We’re especially grateful to have such wonderful support from the community because 2019 is going to be a big year for Hagerstown Hopes. We’ve worked out the details with the health department and will be offering free HIV testing at our Hub very soon. Privacy and confidentiality are important, and we’re happy to announce that we’ve developed a system to help ensure the anonymity of those seeking testing. Scheduling will be handled by the health department and members of the board and committees will not be involved in testing to help ensure your privacy.
We’re also happy to announce that we are working with the library to create a book club and discussion group that recognizes and celebrates all aspects of the diversity of our community. The library was awarded a grant and generously reached out to us, asking us to be involved, and we look forward to providing you with updates and information in the near future.
Several of our members recently attended a GSA meeting at a local high school. We were delighted to learn that our youth want to be active, contributing members of our community, so we’re working with them to create the first annual LGBTQ prom. We’ve been attending to the details of our youth program, which will begin soon, and we will incorporate teaching life skills while helping our youth plan the prom of their dreams.
Again, we’d like to thank everyone for supporting us and helping us bring services and resources to our community. None of this would be possible without the support of the community, and we’re so grateful for your help in making what seemed impossible a new reality for Hagerstown and the surrounding areas.
As always, please like and follow us on Facebook to stay up to date on our upcoming events and new services. Or visit Hagerstownhopesmd.org to see our calendar of events, list of local resources, or to make a donation. Happy New Year!
- 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.