If you had asked me if I would be writing about being a part of an organization that does what it can to assist LGBTQ, but especially T folks, in Medina, Ohio, I would have told you you were crazy. However, I’m sitting down to let you all know how grateful I am to be part of this community of support and friendship. 5 years have gone by quickly, and on Monday, Oct. 22 we will be celebrating 5 years of monthly support group meetings!
I can’t begin to thank helpers in all of this, but I definitely want to thank Sheryl and Karen, who were instrumental in the very beginning of the group; Amy, who keeps the books and keeps me in line and tells me if my Ideas are wacky or if she thinks they will fly; Kathy, who keeps finding positive messages and fun tidbits that keep you informed and enlightened on our (900+ followers!) Facebook page; and Candyce, who has taken a website that needed lots of love, and made it a continually updated resource for the NEOhio LGBTQ Community! And puts great flyers together for all our events! Special thanks to Katie…you are always there early to help me set up the room for each meeting…couldn’t manage without you!! You all rock!
Also, we’ve had financial support from many individual donors (THANK YOU!!), CLAW, The Akron Community Foundation (Millennium Fund for Children, Gay Community Endowment Fund
and Medina Women’s Endowment Fund) and in-kind support from both Akron and Cleveland PFLAG! And we can’t fail to mention Unity of Medina, which has offered us a welcoming, safe and secure location for our monthly meetings from the start..THANK YOU!
We’ve been able to do alot in 5 years:
Monthly support meetings (at least 500 people have come to meetings, looking for support, or able to give support)
About 75 Binders or gaffs to teens and young adults, including LGBTQ Foster youth
Dozens of Transgender 101 classes to businesses, churches, guidance counselor/teacher inservices, graduate level class at CSU, libraries, and civic groups
Educational programs about topics like Medical Resources, LGBTQ Elder Concerns, Legal Resources, and School Resources
Resource Fairs at Transgender Job Fair, Tri-C Brunswick, Medina Social Services Fairs, Game Change Conferences
Support Medina County High School GSAs with Chipotle fundraisers and lots of swag!
Met with dozens of parents in NEOhio whose teen just came out…lots of coffee!
Purchased and distributed 300 Hate Has No Home Here signs, in and around Medina
Gave away lots of rainbow and trans flags and stickers at events on Medina Square
and this year, working with our friends at Equality Ohio in bringing a nondiscrimination ordinance to protect LGBT Medina residents in housing, employment and public accommodation. Keep your fingers crossed!!
While this group was initially inspired by our transgender son, Ross (and continues to be), I am inspired each month by stories I hear from the bravest people I know…those who dare to live their authentic selves, in the face of a society that is often less than supportive, and sometimes, unfortunately violent or just seemingly impossible to navigate. I hope that OutSupport has provided all of you some sort of space to help you or your family member live your authentic lives..however that looks for you or your loved one. Each of our journeys are unique, but we all share similar issues, and I hope that we all continue to learn and grow and inspire others to live their authentic lives.
While we won’t be having a birthday party like we have in years past, we would love to see you again if you can make it to the meeting on Monday, Oct. 22 at 7:00pm. We would love to hear how your life has unfolded since you have been to a meeting!!
If we don’t see you for awhile, just know that your presence at an OutSupport meeting or event was and is important! We hope to see you soon!!