by Leigh Ann Drew, LCSW and Matthew Grambow, Communications Coordinator
In January, Avow Hospice was awarded a grant from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s LGBT Community Fund of Southwest Florida. The purpose of the grant is to raise awareness and provide education and outreach to the Southwest Florida community on the challenges that lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transsexual (LGBT) seniors face in Southwest Florida. Avow’s grant proposal included growing its existing LGBT programing to provide additional and enhanced education and outreach programs, including seminars, presentations, panel discussions, and film screenings. The proposal also included hosting other community events to serve and provide the people of southwest Florida with opportunities for growth, understanding, and change.
Avow’s outreach over the past six months has focused on starting a conversation on senior LGBT issues, especially through facilitated discussion. To accomplish this, Avow has used the film Gen Silent, a powerful documentary film that brings to light issues that LGBTQ seniors face, including how the fear of discrimination in long-term healthcare settings forces many back into the closet at their most vulnerable moments.
Avow has successfully hosted two screenings of this documentary since January, with discussion opportunities after each screening. The discussions focused on how the southwest Florida community can bring change and make senior care inclusive for all. The first screening was held at Silverspot Cinema in Naples, and the producer of the film, Stu Maddux, was present to lead the discussion after the film. The second screening was a “Lunch and Learn” event on Avow’s campus, which included an open discussion with a representative from SAGE, an organization dedicated to providing services and advocacy for LGBT elders. The SAGE representative also presented information on how to become an accredited facility through their program. Along with screening the full-length film, Avow continues to offer screenings of a 25 minute version of Gen Silent and facilitated discussion for any community provider interested in educating their staff on the issues faced by LGBT seniors.
Avow has also sent representatives from its LGBT task force to various local events, including Naples PRIDE on June 2nd, to raise awareness and provide training opportunities to anyone in the community. Additionally, Avow has continued to offer a six to eight week LGBT bereavement group series to support LGBT seniors and other LGBT community members who have lost a loved one.
In the upcoming months, Avow will continue to support growth, understanding, and change in the southwest Florida community by offering a variety of events and programs, including: 1) “Living Your Truth,” an inspirational event for National Coming Out Day; 2) Two presentations to local senior care providers by Kimberly Acquaviva, PhD, MSW, CSE, author of LGBTQ-Inclusive Hospice and Palliative Care; 3) Two additional screenings of Gen Silent with facilitated discussions.
Avow has been humbled and honored to utilize this grant opportunity to make a difference in the Southwest Florida community, and to ensure that all seniors receive the care and support they need.
This summer, Florida Weekly has graciously allowed us, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, to spotlight the nonprofit organizations funded through the Foundation’s 2018 competitive grant cycle. We have asked these grantees to share their stories. We are pleased to partner with these change-makers.
About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation
The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $5.4 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of $115 million, it has provided more than $71 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. Currently, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are located off College Parkway in South Fort Myers, with satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County) and downtown Fort Myers. For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com