The staff and volunteers of Waltham House, New England’s first group home for LGBTQ teens, threw a jubilant benefit party to celebrate ten years of dedicated service to a particularly underserved and at-risk youth population at Club Café, 209 Columbus Avenue on Saturday, January 26. A crowd of 125 nibbled on appetizers and danced, with razzle-dazzle provided by entertainers Miss Serenity Jones of the Drag Gospel Brunch at the First Church in Somerville and her accomplice, Bobbie Pinz. The event, sponsored by State Street, SunLife Financial and Club Café, garnered almost $20,000 for Waltham House, a program of the Home for Little Wanderers.
The evening’s program began with heartfelt remarks by Waltham House leadership, including Program Director Rebecca Reed, Waltham House Committee members Audrey K. Gillis and Jay Wayshak, longtime staff member Robert MacEachern, former employee and mentor Madeline Howe and former resident Alex Jutras. On being a mentor, Howe observed, “You walk a fine line between being a friend, parent and therapist,” while MacEachern recalled, “We get kids who have never met a GLBT person before, and the staff give them role models.”
Waltham House volunteers celebrating at the party included Michael Donovan, a risk analyst with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, who has been serving as a mentor to Waltham House boys for several years. Mentors are expected to spend at least two hours per week with their mentee, and Donovan’s activities with his mentees have ranged from recreational outings such as trips to Six Flags and Provincetown to shopping at bookstores and art supply shops. “I always wanted to do it, once I was in the corporate world, and my CEO is on the board of the Home for Little Wanderers. It’s an awesome feeling,” Donovan said. Mark Lippolt, Charles Petit and Melon Regis-Civetta represented St. Cecilia’s Church Rainbow Ministry, which has brightened holidays for Waltham House residents by preparing and serving Thanksgiving dinner and collecting Christmas presents for the home.
Among the 16 raffle prizes were dining and entertainment gift certificates, therapeutic massage sessions, gourmet and wine baskets and other personal-pampering items. One of the raffle items, a pet drinking fountain, went to Mary Davis of Medford, who was happy to receive the fountain for her four cats and one dog. Petit, of St. Cecilia’s, was pleased to win a wine assortment and dinner for two at Petit Robert Central at Downtown Crossing.
Waltham House staff and volunteers were very pleased with the outcome of the celebration and fundraiser. Program Director Reed said in an e-mail, “It’s always astounding to see the support for this event. From the new faces that were eager to learn about the Waltham House to the longtime donors, mentors, past and current staff, and former clients, everyone was there to support the kids in the program.We are so appreciative for everyone who joined us for this special occasion.” Gillis, who works as Teacher Coordinator of the Women’s Education Center at Rosie’s Place women’s shelter, said, “We were blown away by all the support everyone showed Waltham House Saturday night. What a great turn out for a wonderful cause.” Donovan remarked, “The Waltham House Fundraiser gets better each year it happens.”
For more information on Waltham House, please visit www.thehome.org/waltham or call 781/647-9976.