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Happy Valentine’s Day from Our LGBTQ+ Seniors!

To our beloved Center community,

Happy (almost) Valentine’s Day! I know this day can sometimes feel like a consumerism-driven holiday or isolate folks who aren’t in a relationship. But at a time when we are surrounded by so much hate, I’m welcoming this opportunity to reflect on the importance of celebrating love.

Each and every day, I get to witness the love our community shows one another. And nowhere is this love more visible than in our Senior Center. In fact, I recently heard a story from our Director of Senior Services, Kiera Pollock, that melted my heart.

Kiera and her team are responsible for programming more than 75 activities for our seniors each month, including the very popular Senior Dance Class. The class is regularly attended by a gay couple, but while one of them could always be found on the dance floor cutting up a rug, the other never danced. Instead, he sat politely on the sidelines, watching his partner enjoy himself.

At a time when we are surrounded by so much hate, I’m welcoming this opportunity to reflect on the importance of celebrating love.

After observing this pattern for a few weeks—one dancing and the other on the sidelines—a staff member asked the gentleman who had been sitting out if he would like to join the fun. He politely declined, pointing to his ears. He explained he had trouble hearing these days, which made keeping up with the rhythm a little difficult, and he didn’t want to embarrass himself. Rather than push him to join or engage deeper in a conversation that he clearly wasn’t yet comfortable having, the staff member took it week by week, slowly building trust with him.

Eventually, the staffer told him that the Center could help get him a hearing aid. Reluctantly, he agreed to meet with one of our case managers. Within a short while, he had a brand-new hearing aid!

At the next Senior Dance Class the following week, the staff watched in disbelief as the attendee who had been a wallflower up until that point, joined his partner for their first public dance in years.

I’m thinking of these two on this Valentine’s Day, imagining all they’ve had to overcome individually and as a couple. But what I’m struck by is that, even though it may be scary, they seemingly always choose love—for themselves, for each other, and for their community—over fear or isolation. I’m also glad to know that they have turned to the Center for support when they needed it, because the celebration of queer love is at the core of our mission.

I hope you are surrounded by love today and always. If not (or even if you are), I welcome you to come join our Senior Dance Class or stop by one of the many cultural events and community-building programs offered by the Center. We’d love to have you.

Joe Hollendoner

In solidarity,

Joe Hollendoner
Chief Executive Officer

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