I did not grow up in Spencer, however, my dad was born and raised in Spencer, and my grandparents still live in the area. Growing up, I had no idea that Spencer Pride existed until one summer driving with my family through town and saw the giant “Spencer Pride Festival” billboard.
I studied Social Work at Indiana University. Part of my senior year was to have an internship within some sort of social services agency. I went through the interview process and became Spencer Pride’s first social work intern. I quickly became acclimated to the ins and outs of the organization and started planning projects, groups, and events for volunteers and community. A full academic year of ideas and projects – the LGBTQ+ Affirming Resource List, Queer Café, piloting the volunteer mentorship program (that was a flop), a community research project on what health and wellness issues needed to be addressed in the community, a research project on volunteer retainment – plus relationship building. It did not take long for me to fall head over heels in love with this amazing organization.
As my internship came to an end, I just wasn’t quite ready to be done with Spencer Pride and I guess it just wasn’t ready to be done with me either. I approached Jonathan about the H&W Director position. There were concerns from the board (no stable H&W Director and me moving to continue my education at IUPUI). However, with the support of Jonathan we were able to assure everyone that I could handle the role on top of my studies. I stepped into this role a year and a half ago when we only offered two H&W services (both of which I designed or coordinated during my internship) and put on the occasional H&W programming opportunity.
Now we are ending our 15th year with having provided 4 different services, hosted 9 H&W programming events with a total of 101 attendees, and have 2 different support groups. I am beyond thankful for everyone who has helped me build the H&W division of Spencer Pride and cannot wait to see where we can go from here.