commUnity center Update for #GivingTuesday

This post was written by Jonathan Balash, Spencer Pride’s president.  Jonathan can be reached at and 812-821-3073.

Close your eyes.

Imagine a small, rural community with a thriving LGBTQ+ community center operating out of a building originally constructed less than 20 years after the end of the Civil War.

Imagine the center regularly filled with people from all walks of life, utilizing the facility in many different ways: Members of the LGBTQ+ community & others are engaging with an all-volunteer staff to access important support services.  Individuals & small groups are taking advantage of public computers & free Wi-Fi in a comfortable, informal gathering place.  Local, LGBTQ+ affirming not-for-profits are regularly utilizing free meeting space to do their important work.  Patrons are shopping at a store which sells items made only by local artists & craftspeople.  Upstairs, members of the aging LGBTQ+ community are utilizing affordable housing with a spectacular view of a revitalized downtown district.  Throughout the facility, everyone feels safe, welcomed, & supported. 

Imagine these things & much more. 

Now open your eyes.

Front of Building November 2017

Here we are.  We are Spencer Pride in rural Spencer, Indiana.  Population 2,214.   We are restoring & improving the historic I.O.R.M. building located in the heart of our downtown.  Visit the building & you’ll find us working to create a full-fledged LGBTQ center that will allow that vision to come to fruition.

We have been working in our community for the past 11 years & have established a reputation of professionalism, service, & a commitment to the betterment of our community.  For the past year we have been operating a successful LGBTQ+ center in a small, rented space on the courthouse square, across the way from our newly purchased building. We’ve shown our capability to thrive in our community, all while working towards our mission of making Indiana a more welcoming place for ALL people.

As we approach the end of 2017, I am proud to be able to share with you a taste of what we are doing in the new building to prepare it for its future use.  Many of you have been asking for this information.  Countless others still don’t know that we have even begun this journey.  Regardless of which group you fit in, hopefully you will find this update informative.  If it also inspires you to open up your checkbook & make a financial contribution to our efforts, we would welcome that (more details below)!

Before and After October 2017

Over the past 30 days we selected (after seeking multiple bids) a local architecture firm who is completing a feasibility study of our building.  This study will establish the ‘current state’ of the building & highlight areas for improvement.  The study will also develop a preliminary site master plan on the future utilization of the entire building, based upon our communicated programming needs.    Springpoint Architects will be finished with the feasibility study in Q1 of 2018.  They are a firm experienced in historical restoration.   We received a $2,500 grant from Indiana Landmarks to assist with the cost of the feasibility study.

Phase 1, transition of existing operations, to be completed by January 31st, 2018:

  • This phase includes:
    • Relocation of Unity, our retail store & designated Safe Place ™ location
    • Relocation of our meeting space for volunteers, the board, & Iris (our youth group)
    • Establishment of Meeting Room space on the 1st floor
  • This work will include (at minimum):

Phase 1 as of 28NOV17













Phase 2, to be completed by a date yet to be determined (awaiting completion of site master plan & necessary funding):

  • This phase includes:
    • Exterior Restoration & High Priority Improvements
    • Interior High Priority Improvements
  • This work will include (at minimum):

Phase 2 as of 28NOV17






Phase 3, to be completed by a date yet to be determined (awaiting completion of site master plan & necessary funding):

  • This phase includes:
    • 2nd Floor Interior Restoration & Improvements
  • This work will include (at minimum):

Phase 3 as of 28NOV17





Additional phases will be developed upon completion of the feasibility study & site master plan

What are the factors keeping us from making our vision a reality today?  Financing.   Our volunteers have the passion, energy, & dedication.  Our organization has both the imagination & the capability.

While we are a successful not-for-profit, our goal has never been to focus on revenue – but rather – our work.  Our existing revenue streams support our current work.  In order to ensure the continued fiscal strength of our organization, therefore, we cannot rely on our present funding to transform our new community center.  Instead, we will be seeking grants, individual contributions, & organizational partners.

Can you help on this #GivingTuesday?  Every dollar brings us closer to our goals.   With your support, we will create a facility where everyone can gather, learn, shop, support, & imagine, all while helping us accomplish our mission of making Indiana a more welcoming place for all people.   Spencer Pride is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization & your donations may be tax deductible.

To make a contribution, visit (just click the donate button on the top of the home page) or contact Judi Epp or I.  We can provide you a private tour of the facility & show you what we can accomplish together.  We can also talk about the benefits of becoming a sponsor, if you are interested in learning more about those opportunities.

We know what needs to be done & we WILL get it accomplished.  You can help make it happen sooner rather than later.

Imagine That. 

Jonathan Signature






The view from the roof of our building overlooking downtown Spencer
The view from the roof of our building overlooking downtown Spencer

“Rocky Horror” Event a Great Success

The historic Tivoli Theater in downtown Spencer was the site of Spencer Pride’s annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender (LGBT) History Month event “A Night at the Tivoli.” It was admission-free thanks to generous sponsors of Spencer Pride, Inc., and held on Wednesday, October 11th, at 7:00 PM. There were more than 200 people in attendance.

Spencer Pride president Jonathan Balash addresses the audience while donned in his "Rocky Horror' gender-bending attire.
Spencer Pride president Jonathan Balash addresses the audience while donned in his “Rocky Horror’ gender-bending attire.

“We were very pleased with this year’s turnout”, said Spencer Pride Inc.’s, President Jonathan Balash.  “Our film choice, coupled with the recent announcement that we purchased a new building downtown helped to build a ‘buzz’ for this event.”

More than a  dozen attendees participated in the costume contest.
More than a dozen attendees participated in the costume contest.

The main attraction for the evening was the movie. This year’s film was The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  The 1975 movie has become a cult classic due to the interaction of viewers through dress, songs, and props. The showing by Spencer Pride did not disappoint. There were fabulous costumes and guests who spoke, sang, and danced to the movie. These guests also provided guidance to other guests on when to use the fun props that were available for purchase before the movie.

The evening also included a costume contest.  More than a dozen attendees participated in the contest.   It was a fabulous way for the audience to participate by judging the costumes.

There was an LGBT history month trivia game which also helped to get the audience involved with the festivities.  The trivia focused on local LGBTQ organizations.  This is also the theme for Spencer Pride’s LGBT history month educational displays, which are currently out at more than 24 local libraries, schools, and institutions.  More information about the locations of the displays can be found on the organization’s website

Boston Scientific PACE presented a check to WRV PFLAG prior to the film.   The money will be used to support Spencer Pride's youth group Iris.
Boston Scientific PACE presented a check to WRV PFLAG prior to the film. The money will be used to support Spencer Pride’s youth group Iris.


Owen Valley Winery had their tasting room open to lure filmgoers into sampling their wine. The winery’s tasting room is adjacent to the Tivoli and was open until 10:00 PM.  The first 50 guests over 21 enjoyed a free glass of wine thanks to a donation by the winery in support of Spencer Pride’s event.

Spencer Pride organizers thank the many individuals and businesses who sponsored “A Night at the Tivoli,” including Greencastle Walmart and many others who have made generous donations to ensure that the event remained admission-free.

In addition to the Tivoli event, our retail space, Unity, at 46 E. Market St. on the courthouse square was open until 7:00 p.m. and reopened following the event.  Guests stopped in before and after the event and checked out the many items that are hand-made by local artists.

For more information about Spencer Pride, check out the rest of our website or visit the current commUnity center at 46 East Market Street in Spencer.

ANATT 2017 2-0100


Spencer Pride President Speaks at “Pride Talks”

Pictured here, from left to right: Sylvia Thomas, Kevin Calhoun, Michele Irimia-Bernabe, Emmanuel Temores, Jonathan Balash, & Myranda Warden.
Pictured here, from left to right: Sylvia Thomas, Kevin Calhoun, Michele Irimia-Bernabe, Emmanuel Temores, Jonathan Balash, & Myranda Warden.

On Friday, October 6, Spencer Pride president Jonathan Balash spoke alongside 5 other individuals at “Pride Talks.”  The event was part of the Indy Pride Educational Series & was presented by Butler University.

“Pride Talks” took place at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis.  The event coincided with the InterPride 2017 World Conference & many attendees were participants from the conference.  The public was also welcome to attend.  The auditorium was packed!

Each speaker spoke about why they are involved in the LGBTQ+ pride movement & why they continue to be involved.  Speakers included: Sylvia Thomas, Kevin Calhoun, Michele Irimia-Bernabe, Emmanuel Temores, Jonathan Balash, & Myranda Warden.

Each individual “Pride Talk” was unique & offered a perspective unlike the others.  As a collective group, the talks were emotional & motivational.  Throughout the evening there were plenty of tears & laughs in the auditorium.

Balash spoke about his experience growing up in Hobart, Indiana, which he perceived to be a very small town at the time.  Little did he know that he’d ultimately live in a community 1/10 the size of Hobart & be a part of establishing one of the most successful rural LGBTQ+ pride organizations in the United States.    Jonathan’s presentation focused on two main topics: the importance of visibility & the recognition that we must continue to educate people on LGBTQ+ issues or they will become indoctrinated to less open-minded ideas.

Change doesn’t happen TO you, it happens BECAUSE OF you,” Balash said during his presentation to the audience.

“Remember that what you are doing is IMPORTANT.  The simple things are IMPORTANT.  Being there, being visible is REALLY IMPORTANT.”

Additional photos & a small video clip of the presentation by Balash is available on the Spencer Pride Facebook page.

"Pride Talks" took place at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis on October 6, 2017.
“Pride Talks” took place at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis on October 6, 2017.

LGBTQ History Displays Available Throughout South Central Indiana

2017 Library Display - Monroe CountyThroughout the month of October, which is LGBTQ History Month, area public libraries, schools, & other institutions are featuring educational displays made by Spencer Pride.  Spencer Pride has created these displays for many years.  This year’s theme is Hoosier Heroines/Heroes.  It focuses on local LGBTQ+ organizations’ leaders.

The boards were assembled by volunteers from Spencer Pride & Iris, our youth group.  Spencer Pride volunteers also distributed the displays throughout the region.

Organizations featured include:  Spencer Pride, Iris Youth Group, Prism Youth Community, White River Valley PFLAG, Putnam Pride Initiative, Mooresville Gay-Straight Alliance, Bloomington PRIDE, & more!

This year’s displays are featured in 24 locations! This includes 10 schools, 12 public libraries, & 2 other institutions in 10 counties.  These displays have been very popular over the years.  Many of the organizations which display the materials request to keep them so that they can be utilized throughout the year in different capacities.  It is, of course, our pleasure to comply with these requests.  We see these displays as an excellent opportunity to expose the broader population to LGBTQ+ history, people, & issues.

The educational displays are available at the following locations:

  • Bedford Public Library (Bedford, Lawrence County)
  • Bloomfield Eastern Greene County Public Library (Bloomfield, Greene County)
  • Bloomington North High School (Bloomington, Monroe County)
  • Bloomington South High School (Bloomington, Monroe County)
  • Brazil Public Library (Brazil, Clay County)
  • Brown County Public Library (Nashville, Brown County)
  • DePauw University, Roy O. West Library (Greencastle, Putnam County)
  • Edgewood High School (Ellettsville, Monroe County)
  • Franklin College  (Franklin, Johnson County)
  • Indiana University Herman B. Wells Library (Bloomington, Monroe County)
  • Indiana University School of Public Health (Bloomington, Monroe County)
  • Knox County Public Library (Vincennes, Knox County)
  • LGBTQ Cultural Center at Indiana University (Bloomington, Monroe County)
  • Mitchell Community Public Library (Mitchell, Lawrence County)
  • Monroe County History Center (Bloomington, Monroe County)
  • Monroe County Public Library (Bloomington, Monroe County)
  • Monroe County Public Library (Ellettsville, Monroe County)
  • Mooresville High School (Mooresville, Morgan County)
  • Morgan County Public Library (Martinsville, Morgan County)
  • Owen County Public Library (Spencer, Owen County)
  • Putnam County Public Library (Greencastle, Putnam County)
  • Roachdale Franklin Township Library (Roachdale, Putnam County)
  • Vincennes University Library (Vincennes, Knox County)
  • Worthington Jefferson Township (Worthington, Greene County)


2017 Library Display - Nashville

Spencer Pride Hosts Workshop at International Conference

The audience was highly engaged during Spencer Pride's presentation of "How to Have Pride & Make Change in Rural America"
The audience was highly engaged during Spencer Pride’s presentation of “How to Have Pride & Make Change in Rural America”

On Saturday, October 7, representatives from Spencer Pride presented “How to Have Pride & Make Change in Rural America” to participants of the InterPride 2017 World Conference.  InterPride is the organization of LGBTQ pride organizers.  Nearly 300 individuals attended the conference, representing all populated continents & approximately 70 pride organizations worldwide.

The workshop was delivered by Spencer Pride president Jonathan Balash, with assistance from treasurer Judi Epp & secretary Katie Zuber.  The workshop began with an overview of Spencer, Indiana, & the unique challenges of organizing a rural LGBTQ+ pride organization.  Next, attendees were introduced to the scope of Spencer Pride’s work in the community.  The remainder of the informative session was focused on Spencer Pride’s approach/strategy & how they’ve managed to be successful within their community & beyond.

“It was an honor to be selected by InterPride to present this material,” said Balash.  “There are so many rural pride organizations popping up all over the world & they need all the help they can get to establish themselves.  We want to do all that we can so that they can learn from our experiences.”

A workshop participant stays after the session to ask a question from Judi Epp, Spencer Pride's treasurer & volunteer coordinator.
A workshop participant stays after the session to ask a question from Judi Epp, Spencer Pride’s treasurer & volunteer coordinator.

The workshop focused on providing plenty of real-life examples of how Spencer Pride’s approach has worked (or not) when put into action.  It was a candid presentation meant to give rural LGBTQ+ organizers ways to start & improve their own organizations.  It was also intended to help educate non-rural LGBTQ+ organizations about how to be more supportive of their rural neighbors.

Spencer Pride volunteers have been working for weeks to prepare for the workshop.  Besides the informative presentation, each person attending the session also received a packet full of information to help further their work in support of rural LGBTQ+ pride organizations.

Participants were very engaged by the workshop & highly complimentary of what was presented.  Many of them spoke to the Spencer Pride representatives later in the conference to explain how they would take the learnings from the workshop back into their own communities.

“We were so pleased with the reception we received about what we shared,” said Judi Epp.  “It’s exciting to know that we were able to help other organizations in their journey towards LGBTQ+ equality.”

Organizations & individuals interested in receiving this training should contact Jonathan at

Our New Building: How YOU Can Help Turn a Dream into Reality

Franklin Street Building and SkyWe’ve been getting a lot of questions from individuals & businesses about our plans for the historic building that we purchased on Franklin Street in Spencer.  We are grateful that so many people have taken an interest in our vision for the transformation of the building into the new Spencer Pride commUnity center.

A key element of our ability to realize our vision is financial support.  The initial building was financed through Owen County State Bank & through the assistance of an anonymous local citizen/supporter.  The total cost for the project will be much higher.  We are currently working to evaluate a local architect with whom we can begin to design the space in a thoughtful manner.

If you are interested in helping us achieve our vision, we encourage you to visit our website at  There you can find out more information about our ideas for the new center.  You’ll also be able to see the many packages available for individuals & businesses that are interested in sponsoring our project.  We can also customize benefits packages if the current options do not address your needs.

Our funds for the building transformation, which is part of our Rainbow Capital Campaign, are being managed by the Owen County Community Foundation.  Checks can be made out to Owen County Community Foundation with “Spencer Pride Building Fund” or “Spencer Pride Rainbow Capital Campaign” written on the notes line.  Checks can also be made out to Spencer Pride, Inc., with the same notations made.

Judi Epp, Spencer Pride’s treasurer, would love to speak with you about how you can help us make our dream for the space become a reality.  You can reach Judi at 317-345-4729 or via e-mail at

Spencer Pride Purchases Historic Building to Expand Services

As the Spencer Pride organization prepared to celebrate the one-year anniversary of its well-received LGBTQ+ center, quietly behind the scenes the Board of Directors was working on a huge next step for the organization – ownership of their own building.

The Spencer Pride commUnity center is currently housed within a beautiful old building on the south side of the Owen County Courthouse. The organization rents from local owner Mike Sudol. Although the initial plan was to eventually consume the entire 3,000 square feet of space in the Sudol building, it did not take much time for Spencer Pride volunteers to realize that they’d need much more space to17 East Franklin truly meet their planned needs & to allow for room to ‘dream’ further.

“We never imagined one year ago how much of an impact having a community center would have. We’ve quadrupled our volunteer base in the last 12 months alone,” says Judi Epp, Spencer Pride’s treasurer & volunteer coordinator. “We now have the capacity to do more than we imagined we would be able to at this point.”

When the SPCC opened last September, the organization hoped to expand its hours of operation to 5 days a week over the next 5 years. After just 11 months in operation, the SPCC was already open 4 days a week.

Additionally, because of the sizable increase in volunteers, regular meetings at the center are consuming more space than was initially expected. The original plan for a smaller, multi-use space was for a smaller organization and no longer meets the needs of the not-for-profit.

On October 2, Spencer Pride Inc., closed a deal to purchase a much larger structure on the north side of the courthouse, just east of the Spencer Coffee Shop which is currently under construction. The acquisition is the first-ever property purchase that the organization has made.

The property is located at 17 East Franklin Street. It is a two-story facility that includes more than 9,000 square feet. The property has served a variety of different businesses over the past couple of decades, including Chaps Steakhouse and the Open Door Christian Fellowship. The building was originally constructed in the late 19th century. For many years, it served as the local lodge of the Improved Order of Red Men, a fraternal organization.

Spencer Pride has big plans for the new space, but first will work with a local architecture firm to develop the design. Ultimately the new Spencer Pride commUnity center will be a fully functioning LGBTQ+ center.

Unity, Spencer Pride’s retail shop, will find a welcome home in the new space that more than doubles its current footprint. This will enable a significant expansion of its already very diverse selection of goods from local artists and craftspeople. Unity’s ever-popular selection of retail will also be given more room on the shelves.

In addition to Unity, the center will contain a large meeting room & event hall, the latter of which was originally the building’s grand ballroom. This will allow for diverse use by the community and its many organizations and businesses. Plans for the space also include offering rental units for the aging LGBTQ+ community & more.

A solar roof and other features will ensure that the newly renovated structure will have a minimal environmental impact.

“We are excited to have achieved this milestone for Spencer Pride and the entire community. We look forward to all that the new center will be able to offer the people of Owen and surrounding counties,” said Jonathan Balash, Spencer Pride’s President.

Balash explained that the timing of the transition from their current building to the new one is dependent upon many variables, including the financing of their vision for the Franklin Street property.

“Over the next few months we will be engaging with many entities in order to properly plan the space,” he said. “While we are all eager to get into the new facility, we want to do it right. This is a huge investment in our downtown.”

Balash noted that the complete development of their new center will likely take several years and would happen in several phases. As funds are identified, the speed of the building’s transformation will increase.

Cathy Wyatt, longtime volunteer and Director of Spencer Pride, is one of the members of the Rainbow Capital Campaign, the committee within Spencer Pride responsible for the identification and logistics of the property purchase. Wyatt and her husband Dan had been looking at the property for some time before bringing it to the attention of the Spencer Pride board of directors. Now, the committee is tasked with driving the development of the facility design.

“This was too good of an opportunity to pass up,” Wyatt confessed. “We are pleased that things were able to work out. The new building on Franklin Street will allow us to do what we’ve dreamed of doing for the past decade.”

Balash expressed gratitude to their current landlord, Mike Sudol, & his wife Denise.

“It was only because of their support that we had the initial opportunity to have a presence downtown on the square. We will forever be grateful for the role they played in helping us move the organization forward.”

For more information about Spencer Pride, visit or visit the current commUnity center at 46 East Market Street in Spencer.

Spencer Pride Volunteers to Participate in InterPride 2017 World Conference

From October 5 – 8, representatives from Spencer Pride will be participating in the InterPride 2017 World Conference, which will be held in Indianapolis thanks to host Indy Pride.

Jonathan Balash, Judi Epp, & Katie Zuber, all directors & officers of Spencer Pride, will be attending the event as well as delivering a workshop entitled “How to Have Pride & Make Change in Rural America.”  The workshop focuses on how rural areas pose unique challenges to LGBTQ+ organizations & how Spencer Pride volunteers have been able to be so successful over the past 11 years within their small community.  The session, one of many offered throughout the 4-day InterPride World Conference, looks at Spencer Pride’s approach & aims to provide attendees with information to help them establish, improve, and support their own rural LGBTQ+ pride organization.


“It’s an honor to have been among those workshops who were selected for this year’s World Conference,” says Balash. “It’s important to ensure that there is representation of rural LGBTQ+ pride organizations since so many LGBTQ+ people live in rural communities.   We are proud to be a part of this event.”

For more information about the InterPride 2017 World Conference, visit

“A Night at the Tivoli” Returns; TRHPS to be Featured


SPENCER, INDIANA – The historic Tivoli Theater in downtown Spencer will again be the site of Spencer Pride’s annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender (LGBT) History Month event “A Night at the Tivoli.” The community event, which is admission-free thanks to generous sponsors of Spencer Pride, Inc., is Wednesday, October 11th, at 7:00 PM. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.

“We are proud to continue to have this event at the historic Tivoli Theatre. It gives us the opportunity to show off this local gem”, says Spencer Pride Inc.’s, President Jonathan Balash.

The main attraction for the evening is always the movie. This year’s film is The Rocky Horror Picture Show. A 1975 cult classic, about 2 sweethearts who get stuck with a flat tire during a storm. They seek refuge in the mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a transvestite scientist. They meet a houseful of wild characters. Through elaborate songs and dances, Frank-N-Furter unveils his latest creation: “Rocky”. This movie has become a cult classic due to the interaction of viewers through dress, songs, and props.

The evening also includes a costume contest to win a prize! It will be an interesting and fun way for the audience to participate by judging the costumes. Another way to win is to take a chance on our raffle, which features fabulous items like an overnight stay at French Lick Resort including breakfast for two!

Owen Valley Winery will have their tasting room open to lure filmgoers into sampling their wine. The winery’s tasting room is adjacent to the Tivoli and will be open from 5:30PM-10:00 PM. For this event, alcohol can be taken from the winery into the theater. The tasting room will undoubtedly be a popular spot.

Many individuals and businesses are sponsoring “A Night at the Tivoli,” including Greencastle Walmart and many others who have made generous donations to ensure that the event remains admission-free.

In addition to the family-friendly Tivoli event, Spencer Pride, Inc., is coordinating LGBT History Month educational displays in a record-breaking (20) twenty libraries, public schools, universities, and other community organizations in Greene, Putnam, Lawrence, Owen, Monroe, Brown, Clay, and Knox counties. This is the eighth year that the organization has offered educational displays to libraries for LGBT History Month, and it is the fifth year that those displays will also appear in area schools and universities. Youth group, Iris, aided the development of this year’s displays.

In addition, our new retail space, Unity, at 46 E. Market St. on the courthouse square will be open until 7:00 p.m. and reopen following the event!  Stop in before and/or after the event and check out the many items hand made by local artists. It’s not too early to begin some holiday shopping.

For more information about Spencer Pride Inc., please visit or send questions to  You can also find us on Facebook (SpencerPride) & Twitter (@SpencerPrideInc).  Our Youth Group, Iris, can be found on Instagram (@SpencerPrideYouth).

2017 Strategic Goal Results

2017 Performance Results

At the recent annual Strategic Planning Retreat (theme: “Heroes Assemble), the Spencer Pride Board of Directors reviewed the organization’s performance over the past year.

When we we outlined the 2017 strategic goals back in late summer of 2016, a lot was unknown for us: whether our commUnity center would open as-planned, how receptive the community would be to the center, how we would best utilize the center given the limited space available for the public, and whether or not we’d have the volunteer bandwidth to continue the successful activities we’ve been doing for the last 10 years AND add even more on to our plate.

2017 4It didn’t take long for to us to understand how the year would unfold for us.  It was a truly phenomenal year by almost any measure: volunteer participation, financial support, media attention, & commUnity center impact.  When looking at our Strategic Goals in particular, we mostly accomplished what we had set out to do.

Our first goal was to Establish the Unity Shop, which involved opening the center in September & operating it consistently.  Although we initially opened 2 days per week, we expanded our operating hours by an additional day in May.  Within months, Unity became a central source of both new volunteers as well as revenue for us.  The Board agreed that we achieved this important goal.

Our next goal was to Implement our Safe Place Program.  This did occur on-time as planned, with the Spencer Pride commUnity center being an ‘official’ Safe Place (as a part of the National Safe Place network).  We supported this implementation with significant training for our volunteers in a variety of areas.  Training was provided by Prism Youth Community, Middle Way House, Indiana Youth Group, & MESA, among others.    Our volunteers are well-equipped to respond to any Safe Place needs at the center.  The Board agreed that this goal was also achieved.

TieDye-0537The third goal was to Cultivate our Volunteers, which entailed nearly 10 significant actions related to training, supporting, & celebrating our volunteers.  When this goal was established last year, we had no idea that we would be tripling our volunteer based over the course of 2016 & into 2017.  We provided volunteer training, implemented a brand-new (and well-received) volunteer recognition program, kicked off new methods of signing up for volunteer opportunities, & utilize volunteers in new leadership roles.   While we are excited about the amazing growth we saw in this area, keeping up with the new volunteers meant that we couldn’t get 2 of our individual tasks accomplished that had been listed under this goal (developing & delivering Spencer Pride training to our volunteers as well as conducting a volunteer needs assessment).  The Board agreed that these two tasks are important enough that we didn’t want to consider this overall goal as achieved;  rather, the Board agreed that it was still in process.

Grow our Financial Base was our fourth goal.  This goal entailed maintaining & growing our financial support, including implementing a new fundraiser.  We absolutely accomplished our goal here.  The new fundraiser we implemented – the Spencer Coloring Book – was very well received.  It was so popular, as a matter of fact, that we are currently putting together a second coloring book which will feature all of Owen County.  The Owen County Coloring Book will be available for purchase at the commUnity center this November in time for the holidays.  The Board agreed that we achieved this goal & also decided to focus on financial sustainability & transparency in our 2018 strategic goals.

IssacOur final goal was to Foster Community Relationships.  This is a critical strategic goal for us that demonstrates our commitment to supporting our community & its many wonderful organizations by donating our time & financial resources.  Our partnership with the White River Valley PFLAG, volunteer work for the Tivoli Theatre, & hundreds of dollars in contributions to local organizations are a testament to our success in this area.  The Board agreed that we achieved this goal.

In summary, the Spencer Pride Board of Directors unanimously decided that we had completed 4 out of 5 of our strategic goals, with the one remaining goal nearly complete & on track for full completion by the end of 2017.

We hope that this information is helpful.  If you have any further questions about how we performed to our 2017 strategic goals, please reach out to us at

Festival Breaks Records, Welcomes Many Newcomers

2017 Festival from Dragonfly

The 2017 Spencer Pride Festival was an amazing success by nearly all measures. Well over 2,000 people took part in the festivities of the 11th annual event in the heart of downtown Spencer.  Although it was hot, attendees seemed quite happy with the entertainment, activities, & opportunities that the festival offered.


The day was filled with activities for all ages, the entertainment on the main stage, the tasty food options, the third annual Pet Parade, Market Street Family Fun Area, & the Prism All-Ages Activity Zone. New this year was Cardinal Spirits serving up their signature cocktails under the shade of a tree & in sight of the entertainment. In addition, the marketplace received great feedback by festival-goers, many of whom spent hours perusing the items for sale & learning about important causes.

The marketplace was spread throughout the entire lawn of the courthouse and spilled into Franklin Street as well, where most of the food vendors and the Owen County Public Library’s Bookmobile were located. The alpacas brought by SuPaca Farms were a HUGE hit with everyone!

This year’s food vendors were quite diverse. From funnel cakes to french fries, from corn dogs to fudge to pretzels to corn on the cob and much more, there were plenty of tasty food options at this year’s festival.  Shake-ups and other cool treats and sweets were a welcome sight for festival-goers, especially as the weather heated up in mid-afternoon.

2017 Spencer Pride Festival-0058-2

Planned Parenthood won the ‘most engaging booth’ prize due to their highly outgoing volunteers & interactive display.

Free HIV testing was available throughout the day thanks to IU Health Bloomington.  The confidential testing took place at the Tivoli Theatre thanks to a partnership between the theatre & festival organizers.

Spencer Pride’s commUnity center at 46 E. Market Street was a popular gathering and shopping destination.  Unique, locally hand-crafted, & resale items were available throughout the center, while the ever-popular raffles were located in the back room. This year’s raffle winners included Robert Smith who won a French Lick Overnight Stay for 2 with a $200 gift card; Terry Urban from Spencer who won a hand-crafted rainbow Adirondack chair; and Diane Salazar from Indianapolis who won a package that included a Bass Pro Shop gift card, Colts house flag, and a windcatcher.   Mark Mason won a package with items from the Cincinatti Reds & Indianapolis Indians;  He also won an overnight stay at French Lick Resort & a package that included a Canyon Inn gift card & CDs from a local musician.  Amanda Terrelll won two packages: a Monster gift basket & Holiday World package that included a Coca-Cola Cooler.  Ryne Shandy won two prints from Susan Anderson Shorter.

2017 4

Outside of the commUnity center, local artists were set up beneath canopies where they were showing off their various talents.  Painters, illustrators, knitters, & wire-benders all showed their unique skills to passersby.

All ages took advantage of the inflatable fun that filled Market Street. The deluxe slip-n-slide was well-utilized & appreciated given the balmy temperature. New this year in the Market Street line-up was Bloomington Aerialogy with aerial silk demonstrations and lessons.  Many people took part in observing these aerialists perform their gravity-defying acts while being suspended high above Market Street.

2017 5

Penny Zufall won the award for Spencer Pride, Inc., Volunteer of the Year, which was presented by president Jonathan Balash & volunteer coordinator Judi Epp.   Zufall was shocked at receiving the award & accepted the award & flower arrangement with tears of joy streaming down her face.

“Spencer Pride is 100% volunteer-driven, & without the help of amazing volunteers like Penny, we wouldn’t be able to put on the Spencer Pride Festival,” said Judi Epp.

Sheryl Daniels returned for her fifth year as Emcee of the Spencer Pride Festival. Sheryl is also the entertainment coordinator of the event & is responsible for all of the talented artists who perform. This year’s line-up included Quarryland Men’s Chorus, Different Drummer Belly Dancers, Hudsucker Posse, Window to My Soul, The Trip, Dan Wyatt & Larry Morley, The Retrovales, Owen County Civic Theatre, Zumba with Nancy Emerson & Crew, & finally, the Ladies of Spencer Pride Drag Show.

2017 2

The third annual Spencer Pride Pet Parade was a huge hit.  Nearly 20 animals (& their human companions) participated in the parade. A panel of kids evaluated each one before announcing two winners – one for most colorful and one GRAND PRIZE winner.  All of the pets seemed to enjoy the attention they received as a result of their involvement in the event.

Prism Youth Community coordinated a variety of activities for this year’s festival, including  Spencer Pride’s annual Coloring Contest!  Kids and adults alike were thrilled to show off their skills coloring the special page made by local artist Stephen Adams exclusively for the 2017 Spencer Pride Festival.  Also at the Prism All-Ages Activity Zone was a contest for the new Spencer Pride coloring book mascot, who is a non-binary raccoon.  “Camden” was announced as the winning name in the late afternoon.

One of the most obvious changes to this year’s festival was the participation of a lot more youth.  From booths such as Prism Youth Community & White River Valley PFLAG, youth were in front-and-center of the marketplace.  They also came out in large groups to attend the festival, which was apparent no matter where you were.  Several of the youth in attendance are members of the newly created youth group within Spencer Pride, which has begun meeting routinely at the Spencer Pride commUnity center.

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Volunteers at Spencer Pride, Inc., were pleased with how this year’s festival turned out.

“We received a lot of feedback from people at the event & even more afterward,” said president Jonathan Balash.  “It’s been overwhelmingly positive. People continue to recognize the uniqueness of what Spencer Pride is – a family-friendly rural LGBTQ+ pride event where ALL ARE WELCOME.”

Balash encouraged individuals who attended the event to share their feedback via their online survey, which can be found at

Sponsors of the 2017 Spencer Pride Festival included: Cook Medical, Boston Scientific, Walmart, French Lick Resort, & the Tivoli Theatre, among many more.

The 2018 Spencer Pride Festival will be held on June 2, 2018, and will be the 12th annual event.  Volunteers have LOTS in store for it, so interested individuals are encouraged to stay up-to-date on Spencer Pride’s work by continuing to visit their website and Facebook pages.

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2017 Spencer Pride Festival 2-1207

Spencer Pride organizers expressed appreciation for attendees, vendors, & sponsors of the 2017 Spencer Pride Festival.  It was the best attended & most engaging event yet.

More information about Spencer Pride and the Spencer Pride Festival can be found at

2017 Festival Entertainment Line-up

We are proud to share our entertainment line-up for the 2017 Spencer Pride Festival.  This line-up features many returning entertainers as well as some first-time performers as well.  Young or old, drums to drag, vocal to instrumental to dance, we have a diverse set of performers for our 11th annual event.

The Spencer Pride Festival is an admission-free, family-friendly event.  All of the entertainers listed below will be performing on the Ivy Tech Stage.  Festival attendees are encouraged to picnic in the lawn and experience the fun of Spencer Pride for the entire afternoon.  The festival begins at 10 AM and lasts until 5 PM.  In addition to the live entertainment, the Spencer Pride Festival consists of a large marketplace with nearly 100 vendors, plus raffles, giveaways, & a variety of other activities.  Our Family Fun Area, located in Market Street, contains fun things for kids of all ages.

Below the entertainment line-up you’ll see the participants in the 2017 “Ladies of Spencer Pride” Drag Show.

2017 Drag Show Lineup

Scholarship Winner Announced


Spencer Pride and White River Valley PFLAG are excited to announce our 2017 $1000 scholarship recipient.  Issac Young has been selected as our second award winner and comes to this place with a long history of work to move equality forward.

For the past three years, Issac has been involved with Prism Youth Community and has been part of Prism’s leadership team since its creation. As the previous chair of Prism’s Education and Training committee, Issac was involved in various trainings for over two years.  Working from the perspective and experiences as a transgender individual, Issac addressed many audiences of professionals about how things can be made better for students and youth across the state.

Recently, Issac travelled with Prism Youth Community to Washington D.C. for the HRC’s 4th annual TIME TO THRIVE conference.  The group met advocates including Al Franken and Dolores Huerta and attended workshops to develop a broader sense of issues faced by today’s youth across the nation.  In his words, “I’ve been emboldened by the places I been and the people I’ve met to do the work that I can in my community.”

Issac has been accepted to Columbia College Chicago’s Honors Program and he states, “I plan to continue my efforts promoting education by getting my degree in Video Game Art/Development so that I can help create games that increase diversity within the field of video games. I want my video games to tell real stories and promote the sharing of these stories. Just as I was helped and encouraged to tell my story and share my truths, I want my games to empower others to do the same.”

May Meeting Packed with People & Productivity; Mascot Names Narrowed Down

Meeting - Jonathan

Sunday’s monthly Spencer Pride volunteer meeting at the commUnity center was well-attended & very productive.   It’s obvious that the festival is now just under one month away, given all of the flurry of activities happening.  Thankfully, we are an organization well supported by our volunteers.  They make everything that we do possible!

Key accomplishments recently:

  • Billboards are now up in Spencer (near Walmart) & Cloverdale (along I-70)
  • Flyers are printed & ready for distribution
  • A total of 23 sponsors are registered for the festival
  • The number of registered vendors is 85 & continues to rise
  • We have started receiving items for our Choose-Your-Own Raffles.  Some of the items we’ve received include tickets to sports events, decorative items for the lawn, gift certificates, etc.
  • Festival t-shirts have been ordered & will be available within the next couple of weeks.  Remember – festival volunteers get a free shirt!
  • Festival signage has been ordered
  • Some festival decorations (17′ tall rainbow banners) have been ordered & receive

Meeting - Mascot Names

Meeting - Penny Chatting

Other items discussed at the meeting include:

  • The board recently approved 2 policy changes/updates: (1) Volunteers are no longer permitted to drink alcohol while volunteering nor arrive for volunteering activities while already intoxicated.  While there haven’t been any specific issues with this, the Board felt it was responsible to employ caution in this area so that we do not risk the positive reputation of Spencer Pride. This was also a timely decision since this is the first year where cocktails will be sold at the festival.  (2) There is now a no-weapons policy at the Spencer Pride commUnity center.  Signage will be going up soon asking for patrons to respect this policy.
  • The after-Pride Volunteer Party will be on Sunday, July 9 at Jonathan & Jacob’s home from 2-6 PM. There will be no monthly volunteer meeting in June due to the festival.
  • Work is underway at the commUnity center to install air conditioning, which should be complete by the festival

The Welcoming & Activities Committees met as well.  A summary of the discussion in those meetings is shown below.


  • Much discussion took place regarding the logistics of the 50-50 drawings & Welcome Booth
  • The festival program draft was reviewed & changes recommended
  • The number of volunteers, tables, & canopies required to support Welcoming responsibilities was determined


  • The Family Fun Area is now completely finalized.  Contracts have been signed & paid for both PartyZone Rentals & Bloomington Aerialogy
  • The Pet Pride Parade still needs a ‘marshall’ & a “caboose,” both of which would be new this year
  • A significant focus of additional meetings will be on managing & scheduling raffles as well as soliciting participants for the Dunk Tank

And finally, the time came to vote to narrow down the list of proposed mascot names.  We received more than 40 recommendations and only 5 could move on for final voting at the festival.  The 5 chosen by volunteers include:  Camden, Cooper, Rainbow, Rikki, & Stonewall.  We are really excited about these options!

Meeting - Mascot Names

This year's festival t-shirt has been ordered and will be available at the commUnity center for sale within the next couple of weeks
This year’s festival t-shirt has been ordered and will be available at the commUnity center for sale within the next couple of weeks

“Free Mom Hugs Tour” Coming to Spencer Pride commUnity center

FMHTOn May 1, the first ever “Free Mom Hugs Tour” launched from Oklahoma City.  The tour will be making a stop in Spencer this Saturday, May 6 at the Spencer Pride commUnity center, which is located at 46 E. Market Street.  Kicking off at 4 PM, the event will include distribution of countless “free mom hugs” to anyone interested in receiving one.

The “Free Mom Hugs Tour” is making way to its final destination at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City.   The tour will stop in 10 cities & surrounding communities.  The purpose of the tour is to reassure the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, & queer) community that they are valued & loved, & to raise awareness of their dignity & worth.

The “Free Mom Hugs Tour” is the brainchild of two mothers of LGBTQ children: Sara Cunningham of Oklahoma City & Laura Beth Taylor of Dayton, Tenn. Cunningham, the parent of a gay man & author of How We Sleep at Night, is a well-known advocate for participating in PRIDE events, carrying her “Free Mom Hugs” banner. When she reached out to Taylor, a transwoman who is the parent of LGBTQ children and author of Shattering Masks, the plan took shape.

“This isn’t a march; we’re not setting out to protest something, but rather to attest that all people – regardless of the margins in which they find themselves – are deserving of love, dignity & compassion,” Taylor explained. “Our goal is to express that in each city we visit as we encourage others to do so, too.  It’s a simple exercise of loving our neighbors,” she added.

Cunningham noted, “Every time I’m out with the banner, I meet more youth & young adults who need reassurance that they are not alone, that there are people who love & support them. I also meet parents who need to be encouraged on their path of loving & accepting their LGBTQ kids. That’s the message we will carry along with our banner.”

The Tour culminates in New York City on May 14, which is Mother’s Day, near the historic Stonewall Inn, considered by many to be the birthplace of the LGBTQ equality movement. Subsequent annual Tours will conclude on Mother’s Day at other landmarks significant in the history of the LGBTQ equality movement.

Laura Beth Taylor explained that they found out about the Spencer Pride commUnity center when they initialy struck out looking for something in Indianapolis.  They expanded their search window & saw that Spencer had its own LGBTQ+ center.  “We were so excited to see something outside of a major city – where community is often more personal,” Taylor said.

The overall rate of homelessness & suicide in the LGBTQ community is nearly 10 times the rate of the general population, according to the CDC. Furthermore, it is estimated that 25 percent of LGBTQ youth who come out in religious circles are immediately turned away by their families. The “Free Mom Hugs Tour” demonstrates what love & support can look like and educate community leaders about the unnecessary risks LGBTQ children, youth & young adults face on a daily basis.

Spencer, Indiana, is the smallest town in the United States with a dedicated LGBTQ+ center.  The Spencer Pride commUnity center opened in September 2016 & will be expanding over the next year to offer additional services to the community.  It is currently a certified Safe Place & an LGBTQ+ Safe Zone.  It is also the home of Unity, a distinct retail shop selling items made by Hoosier artists & craftspeople.  100% of all profits from Unity support Spencer Pride, Inc.   Spencer Pride is a 100% volunteer-led 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization established in 2007.  More information about Spencer Pride can be found at

Sara & Laura stopped at the Equality House in the first part of their tour, which launched from Oklahoma City on May 1stSara & Laura stopped at the Equality House in the first part of their tour, which launched from Oklahoma City on May 1st