- Written by Lisa Middents, Development Manager
- Published: 26 October 2017
Imagine my delight when mere days after sending out Rainbow Elders’ sponsor invitation letters, I got a phone call from Michael Harvey from the Lathrop Communities in Northampton. Not only was Lathrop eager and glad to sponsor but wanted to go above and beyond what we’d asked in support. Together, we developed a new kind of sponsorship: Rainbow Elders Program Champion, to support not just quarterly events but the breadth of the work the Rainbow Elders does on behalf of the LGBTIQA community in Western Mass. The Rainbow Elders provides social support and resources for LGBTIQA* elders and their allies of all ages.
Nonprofits abound in Franklin County. Local businesses and organizations get hundreds of sponsor requests per year. Demand for sponsor support is more intense than ever with so much of the federal budget in question. That’s why I was especially curious to find out more about Lathrop Communities and to ask why a Hampshire County-based organization would have such generosity for the mostly Franklin-County based Rainbow Elders. I called Michael on the phone. Here is what I found out.
Like LifePath, Lathrop is also a nonprofit. They are 55+ independent and assisted living retirement community whose mission is to “respond with respect and compassion to the changing needs of older adults.” Lathrop has residences in Northampton and Easthampton and is run in accordance with such Quaker values as social justice and the good of the the wider community.
When asked why they cared so much about LifePath’s Rainbow Elders, Michael overflowed with heartening words:
“You guys are doing a great job. Supporting the Rainbow community is something we SHOULD do. It’s part of being in the Valley.” Michael emphasized that “all people are welcome at Lathrop.” Lathrop is immersed in Western Mass culture and is a vibrant and flourishing participant in that culture. Michael mused, “Anybody who’s driving from another part of Massachusetts and comes across the sign, ‘Welcome to the Pioneer Valley,’ and some warm part of their heart gets super-charged and they feel a sense of relaxation – then Lathrop might be for you.”
*Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, asexual, and aromantic elders, as well as their allies