Sweet Owen Community Cleanup

Community EventsA drive down any road in Owen County yields lovely views of fields, woods, spring-blooming trees, . . . and roadside trash. Spencer Pride and the Owen County Garden Club have teamed up to sponsor a month-long effort to clean up and beautify Owen County’s roadsides. Participants can dispose of roadside trash for free at the Owen County Recycle Center.


The event coordinators, Spencer Pride and the Garden Club, invite—perhaps even “challenge”—individuals, businesses, and other civic and nonprofit groups to participate in the Sweet Owen Community Clean-Up.


“The task of roadside clean-up is too big for one day or for one or two groups,” said Julie Coffin, Garden Club President. “That’s why we designated the whole month of April as clean-up month. People can choose their own spot to clean up and do it whenever it fits their schedule. If a lot of people spend even an hour picking up trash, just think how that will help.”


SOCC bannerHere’s how it works. Anyone who wishes to take action and be part of the Sweet Owen Community Clean-Up should follow these steps:

  • Make contact with clean-up coordinators Jacob Balash (812-821-1442) or Julie Coffin (812-829-2493), or leave a comment or message at the Sweet Owen Community Clean-Up Facebook page. This is important because in order to dispose of your roadside trash for free at the Owen County Recycle Center, the coordinators need to know ahead of time.
  • If you wish, arrange to pick up large, sturdy trash bags from one of the clean-up coordinators. This is optional, but it saves you the expense.
  • Clean up a section of road that matters to you.
  • Take a picture of yourself! Or, take a picture of your stack of trash. Post the picture on the Facebook page. Or email it to Julie Coffin at julie_coffin@att.net. Let other people know that you helped clean up a piece of Owen County.
  • Dispose of your roadside trash (and any recyclables) for free at the Owen County Recycle Center during its regular hours of operation. But again, event coordinators need to have you on a list ahead of time.


A Facebook page is up and running on which people can ask questions, get involved, and, most importantly, post pictures of their clean-up efforts. Find the Sweet Owen Community Clean-Up page at www.facebook.com/SweetOwenCleanup/. Organizers hope that using social media will help spread awareness and help spur people to participate.


“We’ve always found social media to be the best method of bringing people’s attention to special activities and events that we’re involved with. By participating on the Sweet Owen Community Cleanup Facebook page people will get to share their wonderful success stories of cleaning up the county, plus help motivate others to do what they can to improve the landscape alongside our roads,” said Jacob Balash, Spencer Pride Inc. volunteer.


Event organizers encourage participants to separate recyclables from roadside trash, if at all possible. Glass, aluminum, tin/steel, and plastic are all viable recyclables, and separating them keeps them out of the landfill and helps to support the Recycle Center. Styrofoam, which makes up a significant percentage of roadside trash, is not recyclable and must be disposed of as trash. Coordinators also remind participants to use caution, and to be alert to traffic when working on county roadsides.


At the end of April, Spencer Pride and the Garden Club will host a celebratory pitch-in lunch. Pride members, Garden Club members, and anyone who participates in the Sweet Owen Community Clean-Up is invited. Bring a dish to share on Saturday, April 30, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Owen County Art Guild, 199 W. Cooper Street.


“We’re asking people to take action on their own,” says Coffin, “but we want to see and meet everyone. That’s how we build community. That’s how we all feel good about being here and about working together to make our community better.”

Suzanne Westenhoefer to Host Spencer Pride

Suzanne Westenhoefer -love - photo credit to Ellie PerezOn Friday, Spencer Pride made a big announcement on Facebook.  Suzanne Westenhoefer, the groundbreaking comedian, will be hosting the 2016 Spencer Pride Festival!  This is major news for the rural pride event.

Suzanne was the first openly lesbian comedian with an HBO Special and the first openly lesbian comedian on “Late Night with David Letterman.” Her comedy is stereotype-shattering and brutally honest.   After more than 25 years since she first began as a comic, Suzanne’s visit to the Spencer Pride Festival will add yet another ‘first’ to her biography.

Suzanne will be hosting the festival throughout the day alongside Spencer Pride emcee Sheryl Daniels.  Suzanne will sprinkle her comedy amidst the other line-up of fantastic entertainers that will be performing on June 4th.  Entertainers confirmed for this year include King Bee & The Stingers, Quarryland Men’s Chorus, Different Drummer Belly Dancers, and many more, including the infamous Ladies of Spencer Pride Drag Show.

Suzanne Westenhoefer - photo credit to Ellie PerezFestival organizers have been advertising this year’s event – their 10th anniversary festival – as the biggest and best ever.  After reporting that their vendor registration in mid-February had more than doubled last year’s registration from the same time, this announcement about Westenhoefer certainly continues to confirm that it seems truly on pace to be the ‘biggest and best ever.’  Further signs of this year’s event being extra fabulous include confirmation this week that the family fun area will be doubled and will offer special new activities such as the a ‘toddler town’ for those under 5, a superhero-themed 5-in-1 bounce house for kids 12 & under, and a rock wall for those 13 and older.  Several more activities will also help make up the Family Fun Area.

As always, the Spencer Pride Festival is 100% family friendly and free.

For more information about the 2016 Spencer Pride Festival, please continue to visit SpencerPride.org.


10th Anniversary Scholarship Winner Announced

Spencer was notified that he won the 10th Anniversary Scholarship in February. Cathy Wyatt, president of WRV PFLAG, informed Spencer on behalf of both organizations.

We are thrilled to announce that the Spencer Pride & White River Valley PFLAG 10th Anniversary Scholarship Award winner is Spencer Biery!  The scholarship was intended to recognize a local high school senior who has worked to help forward the cause of equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, & intersex people.

Spencer has served as the President of Prism Youth Community-Bloomington for 2 years.  Spencer advocates for others within the LGBTQI community as well as educating professionals within the Monroe County schools, at community events, and among local queer youth.

In a wonderfully-written essay, Spencer described how fulfilling the work has been – especially as one of the team members of an educational team that spoke for professional development programs to MCCSC teachers, counselors, and administrators.

In his words: “The fact that my youth community members and I were able to create materials that told teachers exactly what we as queer students want and need from them to foster a safer and more learning-conducive environment is inspiring and also unbelievable.”

Spencer’s message and passion are clear, and this award has been most properly placed into the hands of someone that will carry the torch forward!


The scholarship award will be formally presented to Spencer at his school’s awards night towards the end of this school year.


A Decade of Diversity

Spencer Pride XWe are very pleased to announce that the 2016 Spencer Pride Festival theme is “A Decade of Diversity.”  This theme was selected through a months-long process of nominations from our volunteers and Facebook supporters, followed by a poll of the same individuals.  In total, 142 people weighed in to help us decide on our theme.  Our supporters on Facebook as well as our volunteers each selected this theme after careful thought and consideration.

We are very excited about 2016.  We are continuing our many 10th anniversary-related service projects through May.  Then, the BIG DAY on June 4: the 10th Anniversary Spencer Pride Festival.

We hope that you like this year’s them as much as we do!  Feel free to leave comments below.

An Extra Helping Hand at the Tivoli

Tivoli volunteersAlthough it seemed that everyone was excited for Star Wars: The Force Awakens to come to the historic Tivoli Theatre, no one was more eager than the Spencer Pride volunteers!

Each month, Spencer Pride volunteers staff the entire theatre for the 7 PM show on the second Saturday.  It’s something that the organization has been doing since shortly after the theatre re-opened in 2013.   For this past December, however, much more was planned.   As a part of the early celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Spencer Pride Festival, the organization has been conducting service projects with local groups.

The December service project was volunteering extra hours at the Tivoli.  Besides their normal monthly commitment, Spencer Pride volunteers helped out during every single regular showing of a film at the Tivoli.

It’s been rumored that Jonathan Balash, their only trained projectionist (and president of Spencer Pride), saw the new Start Wars film at least 6 times, not to mention the other films he saw while volunteering over the course of the month.

In total, Spencer Pride volunteers put in nearly 100 hours at the Tivoli Theatre during the month of December, something that the organization is very proud of.

Rob White, a board member of Owen County Preservations which oversees the Tivoli, expressed his appreciation to Spencer Pride volunteers.   “I just wanted to personally tell you all thanks for the added help in our busy movie schedule,” he said.

Cathy Wyatt, one of the most faithful Spencer Pride Tivoli volunteers (and a member of the Spencer Pride Board of Directors) had this to say about volunteering: “I’ve been a volunteer in Owen County in various ways for over 40 years.  Each effort was very important to me for different reasons.  As a Spencer Pride volunteer, I have found working as a group at the Tivoli theatre very rewarding.  I work with great people in an environment that has been a big part of my life here in Spencer.”

Cathy went on.  “Volunteering with Spencer Pride at the Tivoli serves three purposes for me.  One, it promotes equality.  Two, it supports a vital historic building that I want to thrive.  The third – and most important – is that it builds a strong sense of community between local organizations working on common goals.”

Another volunteer, Joan Staubach, enjoys the camaraderie of volunteering at the theatre. “I volunteer for the Spencer Pride group because I love being with all of you. The Tivoli is a special place for me as well. Great people, great fun.”

Find out what’s next on the list of 10th anniversary projects and the 10th anniversary festival by visiting Spencer Pride on Facebook or www.spencerpride.org for more information. Email questions to info@spencerpride.org.

10th Anniversary Donation Made to Art Guild

Check out all of our 10th anniversary activities happening throughout 2015 & 2016!
Check out all of our 10th anniversary activities happening throughout 2015 & 2016!

As a part of our 10th anniversary activities, we were proud to recently present a $300 check to the Owen County Art Guild in support of their wonderful work in our community. The Art Guild has been wonderful supporters of Spencer Pride for years and donates their space to us for our monthly volunteer meetings. Many of the members of the Art Guild are also supporters of Pride and participants in the Spencer Pride Festival each year. We appreciate having this fantastic resource in our community and are happy to be able to help them achieve some of their goals.

Scholarship Opportunity Available Now

Community EventsAre you a high school senior looking for money to pay for college? Have you been involved moving equality forward for LGBTQI people? Spencer Pride & White River Valley PFLAG are teaming up to award a $1000 scholarship this school year. If you’re pursuing post-secondary education and live in Owen, Monroe or surrounding counties, you could win this scholarship.

For more information and to apply online, please visit www.SpencerPride.org/scholarship. Spencer Pride and White River Valley PFLAG are excited about this offer! Be sure to check out all the details at our website!


Tivoli Event a Big Success!

TivoliThe Tivoli Theater was the site of Spencer Pride’s “A Night at the Tivoli,” an annual educational event celebrating LGBT History Month, held on Wednesday, October 14th. We are always honored to have the opportunity to work with the Tivoli Theater staff, and we look forward to Spencer Pride’s volunteer night at the Tivoli on the second Saturday of each month.

This was the sixth year that Spencer Pride has held an event in commemoration of LGBT History Month. Approximately 150 people were in attendance to show support for the educational efforts of Spencer Pride and to have some weeknight fun! We are so grateful for the strong showing from the local community for the event.

Twenty of our loyal volunteers from Spencer Pride, Inc., were on hand to help the event run smoothly and ensure that everyone had a good time. It is our passionate volunteers who ensure that we are able to pull off such fantastic events.

The doors opened at 6:00 PM for an invitation-only VIP reception for sponsors and community leaders. Our thanks to local sponsors: Greencastle Walmart, Foxy Mutts, Insurance Pros to name a few. Several representatives from the community attended the reception, including representatives from the Spencer Town Board, Tourism Bureau, and other civic organizations. The reception featured delicious hors-d’oeuvres, wine, and live music by Dan Wyatt. It was wonderful to see our sponsors and special guests interact with influential members of the Spencer community and develop relationships!

The main draw of “A Night at the Tivoli” each year is the free film. We always try to choose a film that families can enjoy but that also has an educational message about the LGBT community. This year it was put to a vote to folks on our Facebook page and website, and the winner was “Kinky Boots.” Based on a true story, and the basis for a Tony-Award-winning Broadway musical currently touring the country, the Golden Globe-nominated movie portrays an unlikely partnership formed when the uptight owner of a men’s dress shoe company struggling to stay afloat teams up with a drag queen find a way to save the business. In the process, the two discover they are not so different after all.

A raffle featuring “experience” items was ongoing throughout the evening. Many items were donated by the local community, such as tickets to the Bloomington Symphony at the Tivoli, a Private Shopping Experience at the Dragonfly and a Private Tour and Tasting at Owen Valley Winery. We were fortunate to have unique official “Kinky Boots” items, thanks to Jackie Hall of Bloomington. The raffle was both popular and financially-successful for our not-for-profit organization.

Prism Youth Community-Bloomington hosted a Trans* Trivia Contest, which was an eye-opener for many attendees, some of whom were anxiously surfing the web on their phones for answers! We were proud to have Prism Youth Community-Bloomington’s participation in this important educational portion of the evening. This year’s event also featured a Creative Footwear Contest in honor of “Kinky Boots.” With a dozen entries, it was one of the evening’s highlights!

A Night at the Tivoli Returns on October 14

TivoliThe historical 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 14th at 7:00 PM. The public is welcomed and encouraged to attend.

“We are again privileged to hold our event at the beautiful Tivoli Theater,” says Spencer Pride Inc.’s President Jonathan Balash. “Although this is actually our sixth annual educational event, it is the third to be held at this wonderful venue.”

The main attraction for the evening is always the movie. This year’s film is Kinky Boots. Based on a true story, the tale is heartwarming and full of personal courage, but is also fun and wacky. The Golden Globe-nominated movie portrays an unlikely partnership formed when the uptight owner of a men’s dress shoe company struggling to stay afloat teams up with a drag queen find a way to save the business. In the process, the two discover they are not so different after all. The fashion runway scene at the Milan shoe show alone is worth the trip! Kinky Boots is the basis for the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical now on tour. It was chosen to ensure the night would be full of laughter and excitement.

If that weren’t enough, the evening also includes a Trivia Contest and Creative Footwear Contest. Prism Youth Community-Bloomington will host a Trivia Contest on Transgender History, so study up and win a prize! It will be an interesting and fun way for the audience to learn more about this segment of our community. And if fashion is more your passion, come wearing your fanciest footwear for our Creative Footwear Contest! Our fabulous emcee, Sheryl Daniels, will be operating the audience decibel meter, so bring your friends to make some noise!

Looking for a fabulous experience but don’t have the money to fund it? You’re in luck! At this year’s “A Night at the Tivoli” we will hold a raffle for “experiences.” “Experience” items include an overnight stay for 2 including breakfast at French Lick Resort, 2 tickets for Mary Poppins at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in Bloomington, a private shopping experience at the new Dragonfly Gallery and Gift Shop in Spencer, a private tour and tasting package from Owen Valley Winery, and many more. There will also be plenty of door prizes. While everyone gets a complimentary door prize ticket at admission, folks who RSVP for the event on the Spencer Pride, Inc. Facebook page will receive an additional free ticket.

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 3:00-8:00 PM. Although no 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, White River Valley PFLAG, Insurance Pros, Foxy Mutts Grooming, Jackie Hall and Lloyd Orr, 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, and universities in Greene, Putnam, Lawrence, Owen, Monroe, Brown, Clay, and Knox counties. This is the sixth year that the organization has offered educational displays to libraries for LGBT History Month, and it is the third year that those displays will also appear in area schools and universities. Prism Youth Community-Bloomington aided the development of this year’s displays.

For more information about Spencer Pride Inc., please visit www.SpencerPride.org or send questions to info@SpencerPride.org. You can also find us on Facebook (SpencerPride) & Twitter (@SpencerPrideInc).

SPI Tivoli Logo 2014

LGBT History Month Educational Displays

Each year, Spencer Pride develops and distributes educational displays that feature information about LGBTQI history.   This year’s displays were developed & created by wonderful volunteers from Prism Youth Community – Bloomington.

The display can be found at a record number of libraries and public schools this year, continuing Spencer Pride’s trend of making each year’s distribution bigger than the last.  Distribution of this year’s displays is widespread in 22 locations, including 12 separate communities, 9 counties, 15 libraries, 3 high schools, & 3 universities.

The 2015 displays feature information about Transgender history and can be found at the following locations:

  • Bloomington North High School (Bloomington)
  • Bloomington South High School (Bloomington)
  • Bloomfield Eastern Greene County Library (Bloomfield) – poster only; no educational display
  • Brown County Public Library (Nashville) – after October 13
  • Clay County Public Library (Brazil)
  • DePauw University, Roy O. West Library (Greencastle)
  • Edgewood High School (Ellettsville)
  • Indiana University, GLBT Student Support Services (Bloomington)
  • Indiana University, Herman B. Wells Library (Bloomington)
  • Indiana University, School of Public Health (two locations: School of Public Health at 1025 E. 7th Street & IU Health Center at 600 N. Jordan Avenue, both in Bloomington)
  • Knox County Library (Vincennes)
  • Lawrence County Library (Bedford)
  • Linton Public Library (Linton)
  • Monroe County History Center (Bloomington)
  • Monroe County Library (Bloomington) – October 17 – November 8
  • Monroe County Library (Ellettsville) – part of October only
  • Morgan County Library (Martinsville) – NOVEMBER only
  • Owen County Library (Spencer)
  • Puntam County Library (Greencastle)
  • Vincennes University Library (Vincennes)
  • Worthington Jefferson Township (Worthington)

We are very appreciative of the volunteers at Prism Youth Community – Bloomington for their great work in creating this year’s displays.  We are also thankful for the many school administrators, librarians, and other professionals who have supported having our displays in their establishments.

First Service Project Completed for Spencer Pride’s 10th Anniversary

AllJudiSpencer Pride’s Volunteer Day at the Owen County Humane Society on September 26 was a rousing success! Dogs were walked, kittens were socialized, and rooms were painted. More than a dozen volunteers turned out, and they came bearing gifts: donations to OCHS included paper towels, cat food, pet dishes, and monetary donations.

The greatest need was for painting the cat care rooms. So, while many volunteers gave the cat care rooms a much-needed paint job, our littlest volunteers walked dogs and socialized kittens.

Volunteers and employees enjoyed pizza from Chicago’s Pizza in Spencer, also donated by Spencer Pride.

The volunteer work completed at the Owen County Humane Society was the first of 10 monthly service projects leading up to Spencer Pride’s 10th anniversary in 2016.

“We want to give back to the community for the many years of successful events we’ve held in our effort to make this a more welcoming place for all of our citizens,” said Jonathan Balash, President of Spencer Pride, Inc.

For more information about other planned 10th Anniversary service projects, and how you can get involved, visit us on Facebook or on our website at www.spencerpride.org. Send questions to info@SpencerPride.org or Judi@spencerpride.org.Truman

Owen County Humane Society Volunteer Day

Community EventsOn Saturday, September 26th, Spencer Pride volunteers and their friends will be taking part in an Owen County Humane Society volunteer event from noon to 4 PM.  This activity is the first of many community betterment events that Spencer Pride is undertaking as a part of their 10th anniversary celebration.

Individuals from all ages are invited to participate in this volunteer event.  There will be opportunities to wash & walk dogs, play with cats & dogs, paint a kitty area, & much more!

The humane society is also looking for donations as well.  Items that are needed are listed below.  If you are unable to volunteer on the 26th but wish to donate items, please contact Judi Epp at Judi@SpencerPride.org.

Items Needed:

For Dogs & Cats

  • Dog Treats
  • Dog Toys (Kongs are great!)
  • Peanut Butter
  • Cat Treats
  • Cat Toys
  • PetSmart branded wet kitten food
  • Dry kitten food
  • Animal crates/carriers
  • Dog Houses (igloo type or wood)
  • Nylon collars & leashes
  • Plastic or stainless-steel non-flip food dishes
  • Cat condos
  • Cat trees
  • Cat Scratching posts
  • PetSmart & PETCO gift cards
Animal Care & Supplies
  • Bleach
  • Sturdy Spray Bottles
  • Paper Towels
  • 30-Gallon Trash Bags
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Dryer Sheets
  • Brooms & Dust Pans
  • Cat Litter (non-clumping)
  • Litter Boxes
  • Litter Scoops
  • Pet Shampoo & Brushes
  • Gently-used pillow cases & towels
  • Plastic zipper bags (gallon & quart-size)
  • Anti-bacterial hand gel
  • Kleenex Tissue
  • Garden Hoses
  • Lint Brushes
  • Dish Detergent
  • Alcohol 70%
  • Monetary donations
  • Copy paper, pencils, pens
  • Gift cards to WalMart for ink cartridges
  • Gift cards for gas to get animals back & forth to adoption events
  • Rural King gift certificates
  • Scotch tape
  • Post-it notes
  • Batteries AA & AAA
For more information about the Owen County Humane Society, please visit their website at www.ochumane.org.