The Gratitude and Service gathering in the San Francisco/Oakland area took place on November 10, and included mentoring, story sharing, eating and bonding. Participants ranged in age from 3 months to 70 something. The 30 or so guests included Oakland Stake President Dean Criddle, who offered the opening prayer and blessing on the delicious food that everyone contributed. Donations were collected for Youth Futures Homeless Shelter in Utah.
Twenty-two Affirmation members from Boston to New York City met in Connecticut to enjoy a meal together on November 15. The setting was beautiful and the meal was delicious. The following Wednesday some members of the group made a meal and delivered it to a local LGBTQ homeless youth shelter.
On November 16, about 60 people gathered in Potomac, MD for a Thanksgiving dinner and a circle of gratitude. Quite a few first timers!
A small gathering of a dozen LGBT Mormons, families and friends gathered at the home of Dave and Cindy Sandberg on November 22. Food was shared and everyone present was invited to talk about what they were thankful for. After the meal, there was socializing over pies, singing around the piano, and planning for other activities for Minnesota LGBT Mormons, family and friends in the upcoming year.
Affirmation LA celebrated Thanksgiving with a well-attended pot-luck dinner on the evening of Sunday, 23 November. About 50 came from all over the LA area, including a robust group of straight allies from local YSA wards as well as a bishop, a stake president, and a high councilman. After enjoying the meal together, a spiritual thought and gratitude circle was held. The stake president was so touched that he asked afterward how he can show more support and get the stake at the forefront. No service project was organized, but one is in the works for the Christmas season.
On Saturday, November 22, 2014, members and friends of Affirmation Phoenix did beautification and maintenance work for the One N Ten LGBTQ Youth Center in downtown Phoenix and then enjoyed a delicious meal together at William Barnhart’s art studio in Mesa.
On Nov 22, 2014 the Lehi West Stake hosted a crowd estimated at 200 for a Thanksgving Dinner and Service Project in one of their chapels. The Bishop and Stake President were in attendance and many LDS families and individuals were greeted and welcomed. Shan Sullivan who lives in the stake and Yvett Zobel organized the event and Gretchen Hoeffner organized the dinner and members of several support groups helped. Jill Rowe was in charge of the service project which was to gather supplies and prepare messages for homeless youth in the new center soon opening in Ogden. The dinner was followed by musical numbers and a sharing time in which many talked about their blessings. It was the largest gathering of this type that we know of which has been held by any stake in which LGBT/SSA and their families were invited for such an occasion.
In Seattle, a fall-themed potluck gathering of about 25 to 30 people was held in North Bend (about 30 min from Seattle). Affirmation organizers provided butternut squash soup, and a “thankful circle” was held.
Participants in Bakersfield worked with Ricky’s Retreat (local AIDS hospice) and the Bakersfield AIDS Project. They collected food items (& gift cards) for Thanksgiving Dinner baskets and hygiene kits for the local HIV+ population, and some stayed and helped hand out baskets. Some of the kids from families in the Affirmation group made home-made cards to put in some of the baskets. Everyone was willing to contribute something. Wendy Montgomery reported: “It was a wonderful and humbling experience to be involved in this event. We were able to help assemble 50 complete Thanksgiving Dinner baskets!! I was blown away by the generosity of our Affirmation group.”
In Portland, the potluck Thanksgiving was attended by 30-40 people from all angles–LDS, nonmembers, active, not active, parents of LGBT, kids of LGBT, allies, in same-sex relationships, MOMs, celibates. Participants were deeply moved by what they heard, as they took 30 minutes or so to introduce themselves and say what brought them to Affirmation. The service project involved gathering donations for Outside In, an organization that works with homeless youth.