There’s always something happening at Hagerstown Hopes. Our mission is to strengthen and support the LGBTQ community of Washington County and surrounding areas. It’s a big task, and we’re up for the challenge! Continue reading to find out more about what we’ve been doing, as well as what’s coming.
When we decided to branch out into community outreach, we knew we needed to develop programs and services for our young people. LGBTQ youth often face unique challenges that are different than their straight and cisgender peers. Without support, queer youth can be vulnerable to problems their age and experience have not prepared them to face. Now, as more and more young people are coming out and exploring their identity, we are happy to be able to provide safe spaces and activities for them to connect with other young people and gain access to education and resources that could be beneficial.
The Hagerstown Hopes youth group has been meeting since August and more and more young people are getting involved. Youth group meets the first Saturday of the month from 1 to 4 pm at a different local (and public) location each month. The group is open to teens ages 14 to 19 and each meeting has an optional activity, icebreakers to get to know each other, and time for group members to simply hang out. If you know a young person interested in joining the fun, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We were also presented with an exciting opportunity to assist a local pride club in planning a diversity conference. The pride club applied for and received a grant to promote diversity and inclusiveness, and its members will be doing the bulk of the planning and preparations. Our job is to provide assistance when needed and to help the youth find resources, presenters, and anything else they may need to provide education and resources to their peers, families, and communities. Stay tuned for details as they develop!
Hagerstown Hopes will also be working with the Maryland Office of the Public Defender in late February to provide some very useful services to the wider community. An Expungement Clinic, provided by the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, will take place on February 29th from 10 am to 2 pm at the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, located at 81 West Washington Street, Suite A, in Hagerstown. Community members are encouraged to to come and learn about criminal record expungement, and there will be opportunities to meet with attorneys. Financially eligible clients can have their available records expunged at no cost! Hagerstown City Council members Emily Keller and Shelley McIntire will be there to address concerns from the community. Hagerstown Hopes will be there to provide information about available resources, and we’ll also be providing lunch to those in attendance.
We also have a number of projects in the works. In the coming weeks you’ll be hearing more about our arts outreach program. Arts outreach is an effort to bring the community together to share in creating music, art, and all things creative. Our new education committee will be providing LGBTQ diversity and sensitivity trainings to the library staffs of Washington, Allegany, and Garrett counties in the coming weeks. We’re thrilled to have these opportunities and to be able to give back to the community while fulfilling our mission.
Our events committee has been hard at work developing new approaches to our Nights Out and other social occasions. As we’ve grown, we’ve received feedback that the community would like new and more diverse social opportunities. There is now a Hagerstown Hopes Queer Camp Facebook group for outdoors enthusiasts to get together and plan outdoors adventures. We will also be continuing our Nights Out, among other activities. Like and follow us on Facebook to stay in the loop!
- 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.