In a wonderful evening of connecting and celebration, residents of St. George gathered at the home of Kate Hewlett to generate thousands of dollars for Out! As I Want to Be, the only organization affirming and empowering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in the Midcoast area. More than 50 local residents gathered to hear about the organization and to pledge their support for these at-risk youth.

Attendees enjoyed youth presentations and shared their own concerns about the risk of homelessness in this population and the need for safe spaces in local schools. They also were very supportive of the need to empower these youth with leadership skills and the ability to step into leadership roles in their schools and in their communities.

Hosts Kate Hewlett and Suzanne Lucius created a magical evening that showcased the spirit of generosity and community support of Tenants Harbor, and donations by artists Greg Mort and Jon Mort added a special touch. In a spontaneous silent auction, artist Jon Mort’s “Songs at Sea” giclée print alone raised enough funds to pay the rent on the Rockland office for an entire month.

One of only several remaining programs of its kind in Maine, Out! As I Want to Be supports and empowers LGBTQ young people and their allies in the Midcoast and inland areas. Through affirmation, advocacy, education and guidance, Out! assists LGBTQ youth, 22 and younger, in their journeys from adolescence to adulthood. Based in Rockland, Out! relies primarily on individual donations and does not receive state or federal funds. For more information, to volunteer or to make a contribution to Out!, visit outmaine.org; email outmaine@yahoo.com; or write to Out! As I Want to Be, P.O. Box 1723, Rockland, ME 04841.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.