Friendly House's Gay & Grey program garners national attention
By Molly Hottle
Gay & Grey, a program under the nonprofit Friendly House, became one of 22 affiliates of Services & Advocacy for LGBT Elders in late 2011. Known as SAGE, the national group provides services for older adults in the gay community.
Gay & Grey, which provides similar services and activities for gay senior citizens in Portland, is one of three West Coast affiliates for SAGE. Friendly House gained similar national exposure when Mya Chamberlain, one of its organizers, in December was a featured speaker at a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-sponsored national summit on housing for gay seniors.
Chamberlain, who oversees the Gay & Grey program, said she expects the attention to make the nonprofit more prominent.
“The momentum right now is pretty fabulous,” she said. “SAGE has more visibility on the East Coast ... we think that will help bring us some national exposure.”
Being an affiliate of SAGE means Gay & Grey will receive benefits that include significant resources for its programs, funding opportunities and training. In October, Gay & Grey coordinator Lauren Fontanarosa traveled to Missouri for SAGE training.
And in December, Chamberlain traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the HUD housing summit, where she met other SAGE affiliates.
“They feel really supported by SAGE,” she said. “They have all sorts of materials that they allow their affiliates to use.”
At the summit, she talked with organizers of groups similar to Gay & Grey about the long-term care, health and housing issues faced by gay seniors. She said the Northwest Portland nonprofit was one of the smaller organizations represented.
“As much as I was able to glean from these larger organizations, there was a lot of interest in the work we’re doing,” Chamberlain said.
Gay & Grey is also making local efforts to grow in prominence. Chamberlain said organizers plan to submit a Request for Programatic Qualifications application with Multnomah County. The request is a type of funding opportunity open to organizations that provide a particular kind of service.
Gay & Grey organizers say the funding would provide crucial support to vulnerable members of the gay community. It would be used for financing programs and would allow coordinator Lauren Fontanarosa to be hired full-time.
“We think we’re very much in line with what they’re looking for,” Fontanarosa said.
The funding will be awarded by July 1.
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