LGBTQ Support Group of North Central Massachusetts
We are committed to providing an environment which supports members of this community. To that end, we adhere to these principles:
· This is a safe space for the community, therefore any form of attack or disrespect towards any member will not be tolerated.
· We ask that all discussions which happen in the support group be considered confidential.
· There is no cost to participate in the support group.On occasion, voluntary donations may be sought to offset the cost of snacks.
· Members under the age of 18 may be required to obtain approval by a parent or legal guardian to participate in additional/external support group activities from time to time.We ask any individual under the age of 18 to discuss participation in the support group with a responsible adult to prevent unwanted negative consequences.
· The facilitators of the support group are Mandated Reporters.Please be aware that if anyone shares information regarding abuse or intent to harm, the facilitators must report this to appropriate authorities.
This group is not affiliated with Mount Wachusett Community College. The College generously allows us to use this space.
How We Started
In the early Spring of 2019, I was an Adjunct Professor at Mount Wachusett Community College, teaching Sociology and Psychology. It was just before Spring Break when I was approached by 3 people with the same concern. They all said they were looking for some kind of support group for LGBTQ+ individuals.
My answer was the same for all 3: there was nothing in the north Worcester County area. The third person then asked a follow up: Someone should do something about that. My response was simple: OK, let’s start something.
Cassie and I started meeting weekly to discuss what kind of support was needed, and what was likely possible. Over the course of the next several months, the support group started to take shape. We created some flyers, and reached out to all the high schools in the area to put them up. We also talked to various mental health providers in the area to include them in a list of referrals.
By Fall of 2019 we were ready to start meeting. We had secured a room to meet at MWCC and things were looking good. Over the course of the next few months, attendance grew to about 15/18 participants at each meeting. As you can imagine, we were thrilled.
Then, in Spring of 2020, Covid happened. We scheduled a Zoom meeting, but did not have the technological expertise to create a secure space. We were attacked. That almost ended the group, but we kept at it, improving secure access, and having only 1 or 2 people.
In time, attendance grew slightly. We were invited to meet once more at the College. Then, told we couldn’t meet there. We finally found a temporary home at the Gardner Senior Center. Logistically, this was not an ideal place to meet, but we stuck it out. Finally in the Fall of 2022 we were invited back to MWCC, where we hope to stay for the long haul.
In the Spring of 2022 Cassie told me she needed to step back as co-facilitator. She received her MSW, and her career was blossoming. I asked Amy if she would be willing to step in as co-facilitator, and she said yes.
To paraphrase the Grateful Dead: What a long, strange trip it’s been. Here we are. I hope to continue with this for many years to come. And when that day does come, I hope there will be someone to step into my shoes and carry this project into the future.