It takes time to build a community. After all, a community like ours is made up of all different kinds of people: people with different likes, different opinions, different life experiences, all with different wants and needs. Factor in the geographic size of the region and creating a community becomes an intimidating task. How do you reach out to everyone and extend an invitation?
Despite our name, Hagerstown Hopes is an organization dedicated to serving the LGBTQ community not just in Hagerstown but the surrounding areas as well. We’ve already been contacted by persons in West Virginia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, even a person from the Midwest, looking for resources and a community to connect with. We’re always happy to help and, in the process, we’re seeing our community coming together, gaining size and strength.
We are grateful that we have received such wonderful support from members of our own communities, and we are also dedicated to strengthening and serving our community. Recently we sponsored Trans Meet-Up, a safe, private meeting for trans and gender-nonconforming persons in the region. I’ve been told the meet-up was very successful and that participants enjoyed each other’s company and shared a number of useful online resources for the trans and gender-nonconforming communities. Healthcare needs and issued were discussed with a board member to guide our efforts in finding and creating necessary resources in the area. This was the first of what we hope will be many events to support and strengthen the trans and gender-nonconforming communities in our region.
It’s get-togethers like this that help build a community. There’s nothing like face-to-face conversations to get to know someone, which is the first step in building relationships. That’s why we sponsor Nights Out at local restaurants, to provide an opportunity to socialize over dinner and maybe a few drinks. Our next Night Out will be October 11th and the time and location will be posted on our Facebook page once details have been confirmed.
Individuals are important, and so are families. We’ve been encouraging quality time for families by sponsoring Out With the Family events, like our recent skating party at Turner’s Skate Palace in Hagerstown. Admission and skate rentals were on us, we just asked that everyone have a good time (and maybe tip Araya Sparxx, Madison St. Lawrence, and Nicole James for their stunning performances).
This was our second skating party and we saw dozens of families with children. What I loved is that most in attendance were our allies, which meant we had the chance to thank them for all the support we’ve received. Everyone in the LGBTQ community comes from a community of their own and I thought it was wonderful that our event was able to bring together such a large and diverse group of people. What’s better is that we all had a great time.
If you’ve been looking for a way to get involved in our efforts to strengthen the community, look no further. We currently have two openings for our Board of Directors and are looking for dedicated, passionate, and creative persons to help lead our organization. A simple application is available through our Facebook page. All applicants will be considered and the deadline for submissions is September 30th.
There are also other ways to get involved. We have several committees, each dedicated to serving the community. You can reach us through Facebook, our website (Hagerstownhopesmd.org), or our general outreach email (email@example.com). We’d love to hear from you and look forward to making our community stronger, together!
- 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.