Mark Black and Glen Leiner: There From the Start
Mark Black was here at the beginning. Chris Almvig, one of SAGE’s cofounders, knew Mark through the gay social workers group she belonged to. She knew he Mark worked well with older people, and she thought he’d be a great addition to SAGE’s founding committee.
“I was available, willing, and already involved in the gay community,” Mark says. “We created the model for the social services the organization would provide to older LGBT people.” That included both SAGE’s care assessments as well as its Friendly Visitor Program—programs that continue to this day.
That same Friendly Visitor Program figured again in Mark’s life 18 years later. Shortly after he met the man who would one day become his husband, Glen Leiner, nearly a quarter-century ago, Mark shared with Glen his passion for and involvement with SAGE’s work. Glen immediately understood the importance of the issues and the unique vulnerabilities of LGBT elders and became a Friendly Visitor.
Mark was in his late twenties when his involvement with SAGE began. “Now,” he says, “I’m a consumer. I take some classes, and I come to dinner when it’s convenient. It’s a great place to meet and socialize.”
Mark and Glen have long been members of SAGE’s Taylor Society, a distinction given to those who have included SAGE in their legacy plans. Mark was moved to participate in the Edie Windsor Match Campaign because of, well, Edie Windsor. “I knew Edie. We had mutual friends, and I was always very fond of her. I admired her activism so much.” Of course, Mark and Glen agree that it didn’t hurt that their participation would also generate a current contribution to SAGE.
Activism and service are central to Mark and Glen’s life together, and SAGE holds a very special place in their hearts, they say. “To be healthy and alive is such a precious gift that we cannot bemoan getting older,” says Glen. “SAGE plays such a vital role in our lives and enriches the lives of so many others.”