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Hi, my friends.

I recently met with a very nice young man, whom I know you would like. He has a job, or, really, several jobs, that he enjoys, with a passion, so, naturally, he is very successful at what he does. I’ve known Ian Stanley for two or three years, and I am a huge fan of his.

Some of Ian’s background: He was a teacher at Silverado Middle School for several years; a Youth Minister at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, program coordinator for Voices, foster youth center, and you’ll find him, most of the time at LGBTQ CONNECTIONS, as the program director. LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning.

A little side note: LGBTQ Connection and Voices are under the umbrella of On the Move. Also under the umbrella are the following organizations: McPherson Neighborhood Initiative, Parent University and Mental Health Innovations. These are all outstanding programs for young people.

I know, this is supposed to be a column dedicated to seniors. Have no fear, we’ll get to that, but I know you’ll also be interested in some amazing programs for children and young people, as I was.

LGBTQ Connection is for any age to feel good about, and be comfortable with their choices. Their mission is to increase inclusion and well-being for LGBTQ people across Napa County.

Voices is about transitioning from foster care to adulthood through an Independent Living Program, plus a College Career Program, and a Wellness Program. They also have a Food Shed Restaurant, where they learn to eat healthfully, through planting a vegetable garden and learning how to prepare their meals.

McPherson Neighborhood Initiative provides ‘education equity’, a Family Resource Center, and Leadership Academics.

Also under the On the Move umbrella is Parent University and Mental Health Innovations.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I find all of these services that are available to our youth terrific.

Congratulations, Ian, for the outstanding job that you are doing, giving these young people a sense of pride, knowing that there are people who are pulling for them, wanting to see them do well and have a good life.

After Ian’s education on these great programs for our youth, we talked about how difficult life has been for LBGTQ seniors. Ian shared with me a report noting some eye-opening facts.

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For instance, for most of their lives, to be LGBTQ was considered a crime, a mental illness and a sin?

If their sexual orientation or gender identity was revealed, they could be arrested, jailed, or committed to a mental institution. Many lost family, friends, housing, school, jobs and more. Most LGBTQ seniors are in the closet. Gosh, I wonder why. They fear rejection and discrimination, and they fear for their safety.

LGBTQ seniors tend to be isolated, not only from the mainstream but also from one another. It is, of course, essential to reduce isolation for LGBTQ seniors, and to create opportunities to gather and to feel free and safe to be themselves in a safe, supportive, and welcoming environment.

In addressing end-of-life issues, it is essential that LGBTQ seniors complete wills, advanced health care directives, and durable power of attorney documents.

I found it to be interesting that LGBTQ baby boomers, who are now reaching retirement age, are the first “out” generation of older adults in our history.

There is a wonderful opportunity for LGBTQ seniors to join with other LGBTQ seniors for a monthly gathering. Whether or not you are “out” doesn’t matter, plus there is no charge.

This is a monthly event held at Queen of the Valley Medical Center Outreach, 3448 Villa Lane, Suite 102 from 10 a.m. until noon on Feb. 3, March 3; April 7; May 5, and so on.

I have a new friend who is warm and friendly and delightful. If you are lucky, she might be there to greet you. Don’t stay home; get out and enjoy these wonderful opportunities that are available. And I’m sure you would meet others just as friendly and welcoming as Sally. Meet new people, be proud of who you are.

If you have any questions, please call (707) 251-9432, ext. 205. Drop in and say hi to Ian at LGBTQ Connection office, 780 Lincoln Ave, Napa. He’d love to meet you and answer any questions you might have. You’ll be so glad you did.

Well, my friends, we’re at the end of another visit. Thanks for joining me. Remember to love yourselves, be kind to yourselves and count your many blessings. Visiting with you always makes my day.

See you soon. I’d love to hear from you.

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Contact Betty at bettyrrhodes@sbcglobal.net.

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