More than 200 guests joined OUT MetroWest at the Marriott Newton for a festive evening celebrating the organization’s success in providing social and educational programs for LGBTQ middle school and high school youth. Congressman Joe Kennedy served as the honorary chair for the Come OUT MetroWest and Celebrate event, which recognized U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey for his commitment to the rights of LGBTQ individuals.
The evening was emceed by OUT MetroWest’s Executive Director Jack Patrick Lewis, whose introductory remarks highlighted the organization’s role in teaching “youth to not only survive within this world, but also to actively change it from within.” Lewis also reminded guests that attendance at OUT MetroWest programs has grown exponentially since its first group was founded in 2011. “We have gone from 32 youth at our first meeting to having now served 600 area teens.”
The evening’s highlights included inspiring remarks from board chair Kathy Kaufmann, moving reflections from WAGLY participant Matty Bennet and his mother Kim Bennet, and a keynote address by Senator Markey. In his speech, Markey reminded attendees that Massachusetts residents are “at the heart of this historic civil rights movement in our country.” He also commended OUT MetroWest for its work, adding, “What OUT MetroWest is doing is lifting the constellation of what is possible for LGBTQ youth today.”
According to Lewis, the gala met its ambitious fundraising goals, paving the way for an expansion of services. He explained, “In a post-marriage equality world, there are those who feel that the work of OUT MetroWest is, or soon will be, unnecessary. But for the youth we serve, our work is just beginning. Their needs are immediate. As such, we plan to launch an additional program for middle school youth in the Newton area, in order to make our first-in-the-Commonwealth program accessible to more young people.” He also shared that OUT MetroWest has expanded so quickly that the organization has brought on a new, full-time Director of Programs and Communications. Julie Blazar, an educator with strong ties to the Massachusetts LGBTQ community, will oversee the organization’s youth programming and ensure that area residents are aware of the services that OUT MetroWest provides.
OUT MetroWest currently offers three programs. WAGLY is a weekly program for LGBTQ high school teens which meets every Monday at 6:45 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Wellesley Hills, located 309 Washington Street, Wellesley Hills, MA. Umbrella, for transgender and gender-nonconforming high school youth, meets at the same location at 6:45 p.m. on the first Wednesday and third Thursday of each month. Nexus, for LGBTQ and allied middle school students, meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at First Parish Framingham. The locations and times of expanded program offerings will be announced in the months ahead.
For more information about OUT MetroWest, see www.outmetrowest.org, www.facebook.com/outmetrowest, or contact Jack Patrick Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508.875.2122.