LGBT support agency opens in Muskegon Heights
A new center in Muskegon Heights aims to provide a variety of services and support to the local LGBT community.
Jen Hughes is the director of public relations for LGBT Support Services, which opened this week.
“The thing that gets me about this is there was no support system when I was growing up," she says. "And now that I have a chance to actually help people, that’s what I want to do.”
The day after the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in June, Jen and her partner Devin were one of the first couples to get married in West Michigan.
They began volunteering shortly after.
“We met another couple shortly after we got married, in the [Muskegon County] courthouse, talking about this new center that was going to be opening," Jen says. "[They] asked if we’d like to volunteer – I was like, ‘yeah, sure, I’ll pay it forward.’ And from there, we’ve just been here every single day.”
The center is run by Rev. Robert Teszlewicz, who says he’s been an LGBTQ advocate since the 1980’s.
He says the catalyst came after an Ohio transgender teenager named Leelah Alcorn committed suicide at the end of last year.
“And I thought – man, this just can’t happen. That was really my inspiration to say, ‘I gotta do something,'" Teszlewicz says. "Because there’s never been anything in Muskegon County that’s really comprehensive.”
LGBT Support Services is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday with evening hours available for support groups and 12-step meetings.
The agency also plans to open a food and clothing pantry next month.