4.29.19 Julie Blazar, director of communications and outreach – OutMetroWest
On today’s show, Julie Blaza of OutMetroWest joined Joe to talk about OutMetroWest and follow on FB and Instgram: @OutMetroWest
Phone number 508-875-2122.
929 Worcester Rd, Framingham, MA 01701
Julie Blazar – she/her/hers
DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH
Prior to joining the staff at OUT MetroWest, Julie worked in schools and colleges for more than a decade. A graduate of Acton-Boxborough, Julie knows MetroWest well. Watertown, Waltham, Hudson, and Newton are a few of the Massachusetts towns she has called home!
A former AGLY youth participant herself, Julie loves working at the kind of organization that changed her life. In her free time, Julie likes singing off-key, running, hunting for treasures at yard sales, and volunteer work. Julie attended Smith College and Harvard Graduate School of Education and lives with her family in Maynard.
- Affirming LGBTQ+ identities through positive role modeling.
- Challenging ableism, classism, misogyny, racism, and other systems of oppression.
- Creating supportive spaces where LGBTQ+ youth can be themselves.
- Respecting, embracing, and celebrating diversity.
- Treating people with care and compassion.
OUT MetroWest began running youth programs in 2011 and became an independent non-profit organization in 2014. The organization’s first program, WAGLY, was created as a program of the Unitarian Universalists of Wellesley. It formed in response to requests from local youth and their families, who sought a safe space for LGBTQ+ high schoolers in MetroWest Boston. Jack Lewis, then a minister at the Unitarian church, led the initial group with the help of supportive community members. The only program of its kind between Boston and Worcester, WAGLY immediately drew dozens of area youth with its weekly social, educational, and supportive meetings.
In 2012, the organization’s second program launched. Umbrella, a twice-monthly program for transgender and gender non-conforming high schoolers, was created in response to community requests. Umbrella offered social interaction, education, and support within meetings facilitated by transgender and gender non-conforming adults.
By 2014, the demand for programming was only increasing, and it became clear that the programs had outgrown their home at the church. The organization sought and received independent not-for-profit status as OUT MetroWest, with Jack Lewis serving as executive director.
In 2015, OUT MetroWest launched the state’s first program for LGBTQ+ and allied middle schoolers, Nexus. Two years later, the organization began offering weekly drop-in sessions for LGBTQ+ middle and high school students. In March 2018, Sawyer Bethel was named the organization’s second executive director, following Jack Lewis’s election to the state legislature.
Between WAGLY, Umbrella, Nexus, and drop-in sessions, the organization currently runs more than a dozen youth meetings per month out of locations in Framingham, Newton, and Wellesley. Since 2011, OUT MetroWest has directly served more than 1,000 youth at its meetings, has conducted dozens of trainings for local schools and organizations, and has welcomed more than 200 guests at its events for LGBTQ+ families.