Spencer Pride Annual Meeting Full of Reflection & Excitement

On Sunday, nearly 40 people turned out to participate in Spencer Pride’s Annual Meeting.  The event, which took place in the meeting room of the Spencer Pride commUnity center, limited in-person attendees to those who have received the COVID-19 vaccine.  Spencer Pride volunteers also participated online.

The purpose of the Annual Meeting was to reflect on the past year, share the plan for the coming year, & gain volunteer support for the recommendations of the board of Directors.  Re-elections for directors & officers took place as did approval of the FY22 operating budget & strategic goals.

Several of Spencer Pride’s directors presented during the meeting, including Jonathan Balash (president), Judi Epp (fundraising director), Clay Wright (health & wellness director), Joy Hellman (youth empowerment director), Jacob Balash, Dana Beth Evans (volunteer development director), & Kim Fidler (secretary).

One particular opportunity presented was the ongoing “A Community Thrives” fundraiser in support of repairing the exterior “return” wall to kick off our “Moving On Up” project.  Starting on August 2, a special matching opportunity is being made available due to the generosity of the Owen County Community Foundation.  To donate, individuals can visit https://acommunitythrives.mightycause.com/organization/Spencer-Pride?blm_aid=41077.

Some highlights shared from the past year include:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic continues to shape the organization in many ways, including volunteer anxiety & self-restrictions, delay & cancellation of programming, higher material costs, & (on the bright side) some new funding opportunities.
  • There have been no known transmissions of COVID-19 due to Spencer Pride events & volunteering, a HUGE accomplishment in the midst of a global pandemic!
  • 24 individuals volunteered for the first time & a total of 6,700 volunteer hours were logged (this is a much smaller number than in non-pandemic years).
  • Several new individuals & families joined the monthly sustainers program.
  • The commUnity center was able to return to pre-pandemic operating hours as of June 1st, 2021.
  • 70% of revenue was associated with the Spencer Pride commUnity center, about 30% of which was retail sales.
  • While resale was negatively impacted by the pandemic-related cancellation of many auctions (which are a key source of resale merchandise) & the reduction of in-person sales at the center, some amazing donations from volunteers that were sold on eBay drove approximately half of the resale sales.
  • Several safety & security improvements were made at the commUnity center, including the addition of an additional emergency exit in the meeting room. Gathering Place & meeting room technology was also upgraded.
  • The commUnity center meeting room was utilized a lot this year, especially during the lockdown when many other venues were unavailable.
  • The Spencer Courthouse Historic District was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places (thanks to the work of Spencer Main Street). The Spencer Pride commUnity center is located within this historic district!
  • While the 2020 Spencer Pride Festival was ultimately cancelled, a virtual Pride Week was coordinated although it did not have strong participation (primarily due to the poor access in Owen County of high-speed internet).
  • Many Iris Youth Group teens graduated in 2020 & 2021 & the group struggled to replenish youth given the virtual format.
  • Nolyn Wyatt received a $2,000 Iris Youth Award this year. He will be studying beginning this fall in Washington, D.C.
  • An LGBTQ+ affirming resource list was launched at the commUnity center.
  • Although in-person health & wellness programming was limited, virtual opportunities were coordinated. A virtual chronic disease support group began.
  • Grief Haven, a spousal grief support group, was welcomed into the Spencer Pride family.
  • For the commUnity center rehabilitation efforts, it was noted that grant funding was used to improve several areas, including replacing the ballroom windows, creating roof access for the HVAC, & more. The mortgage was refinanced in order to take advantage of lower rate & take equity out for 2nd floor HVAC, which may be installed in the next year.
  • The organization donated thousands of dollars & lots of volunteer hours to other organizations over the past year.

The strategic goals for the next year (which began August 1st) include:

  • Reconnect with the people we serve. This references both our volunteers & the many others who rely on us through our events & other programming.
  • Strengthen board. There are a few openings that the board will focus on filling, including marketing director, volunteer communications director, & more.
  • Reestablish youth group. Iris Youth Group is now back to meeting in-person at a new day (2nd & 4th Wednesdays of each month from 5-6 PM).
  • Enable access to the commUnity center 2nd floor. This will be accomplished through our “Moving On Up” project, which involves repair of the exterior return wall & finishing of the interior back stairwell.

Additional plans for the coming year include:

  • Host an amazing Spencer Pride Festival on Saturday, October 16.
  • Continue & expand volunteer opportunities to gather – both virtually & in-person (as appropriate)
  • Continue to build donor base.
  • Promote “bite-sized” rehabilitation projects.
  • Participate in external events (primarily Pride Festivals) throughout the state.
  • Rehabilitation projects may include: retail shop exterior façade replacement, improvement of the retail shop back door, & possibly 2nd floor HVAC & front sidewalk replacement.

Katie Zuber & Nathaniel Clawson, Spencer Pride’s Vice President & Treasurer, respectively, were re-elected for new 2-year terms as directors & officers.

As the meeting adjourned, attendees were excited about all of the plans for the coming year & were proud of the organization’s many accomplishments over the past year.

Individuals interested in becoming a volunteer may apply online at www.SpencerPride.org/volunteers.   Individuals interested in becoming a monthly sustainer or making a one-time donation may do so at www.SpencerPride.org/donate.