The mission of the Jackson County Pride Alliance is to connect members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community in Jackson County and beyond.
Besides conducting an annual pride festival in June, the group wants to host regular group activities, dinners, volunteer opportunities, support groups and more.
After becoming an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization last week, JCPA had its first Thanksgiving dinner catered by Townhouse Cafe for LGBTQIA+ and allies on Sunday at the Seymour Community Center.
Kat Hardwick, president of JCPA, said 75 people registered and 55 of them attended what the group is calling a family dinner.
“With the LGBTQIA+ community, there are an awful lot of people that don’t really have family support, so we like to call it family dinner because there’s always the thing of you also get to choose your family, you get to have a chosen family,” she said. “Regardless of whether those there are persons within our community, whether they do or don’t have their own family support, we want to make sure that they know that they have us as a family.”
She said the committee thought Thanksgiving would be a great start to that.
“Especially again, since there are quite a few that maybe won’t have another holiday meal with family, they may not be loved or accepted into their family, we just want to make sure we give them that love and that fellowship and that meal,” Hardwick said.
JCPA received “an amazing deal” on the food for the dinner, Hardwick said.
“They just went all out,” she said, referring to Townhouse Cafe of Seymour. “It was delicious. It was a good first family dinner.”
Hardwick said the goal is to make the family dinners free.
“Just like any nonprofit, we survive off of fundraising and donations and just the kindness of people out in our community, but we want to be able to in turn give that back to people who can’t afford to necessarily donate or have these types of meals on their own,” she said.
Other activities so far this year since JCPA formed were participating in the Seymour Oktoberfest parade and having a pumpkin carving and movie night with the Seymour High School Gay Straight Alliance in October.
In December, Hardwick said they would like to do a cookie decorating and Christmas ornament making event.
“Again, just a time to have people gather together as a group and just do something fun and holiday-themed,” she said. “Maybe we provide some cookies and hot chocolate or something like that.”
The committee wants to continue coming up with different types of fun activities, she said.
“Just from smaller scale things, like get-togethers, all the way to eventually maybe even something like a prom or some kind of big dance for the community,” she said.
To stay up to date on activities, Hardwick encourages people to join the JCPA Facebook group online at facebook.com/groups/335423418688428 and sign up for the contact list by emailing [email protected]
“As a nonprofit, we want to make sure we’re serving those that are in the LGBTQ community but also just friends and allies to our community,” she said. “Anybody who is supportive is welcome to join us in any of our events. It’s open to everyone who is loving and accepting and wants to support and wants to just be part of that community.”
The nonprofit status also allows JCPA to accept tax-deductible donations and apply for grants.
“That will be helpful to continue to further our work that we want to do,” Hardwick said.