Embracing Inclusivity: The Launch of the Rainbow Wisdom Café for LGBTQIA+ Seniors at Little Mountain Neighborhood House

In collaboration with United Way B.C. and 411 Seniors Centre Society, Little Mountain Neighborhood House (LMNH) recently launched the Rainbow Wisdom Café, a weekly event that runs every Thursday in Vancouver that brings 2SLGBTQIA+ older adults together to connect, share and support each other.

In celebration of Pride Month, Route65.ca spoke with Craig Malin, organizer and Seniors Worker at LMNH, about his journey in creating this initiative and welcoming space for Queer seniors.

Can you share with us your motivation behind launching the Rainbow Wisdom Café?

As a gay man, my journey at Little Mountain Neighborhood House began in May last year, driven by a deep commitment to addressing the lack of programming tailored to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Witnessing missed opportunities for engagement, particularly during Pride Month and Vancouver Pride, spurred me into action. This experience ignited my resolve to bridge this gap, leveraging my professional expertise and personal identity to create inclusive spaces and services for our community.

What prompted you to recognize the gap in programming at Little Mountain Neighborhood House?

From the moment I started I noticed that Little Mountain Neighborhood House was missing out on opportunities to engage with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. It was particularly noticeable during Pride Month and Vancouver Pride, when the absence of any 2SLGBTQIA+ dedicated programs and events felt like a missed opportunity. It was clear that something needed to be done to ensure that this community was not only recognized but also celebrated and supported.

Once the gap in 2SLGBTQIA+ programming and events was identified, Little Mountain Neighbourhood House, particularly the Older Adults department, swiftly took action in support for initiatives like the Rainbow Wisdom Cafe and other potential 2SLGBTQIA+ endeavors in the future.

How does your personal identity and professional background intersect in your mission to create inclusive spaces?

For me, this mission is deeply personal. As someone who identifies as part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, I understand the importance of having spaces where we can feel seen, heard, and valued. My professional background in working with older adults has equipped me with the skills to create programs that are not just inclusive but also meaningful and impactful. I am passionate about merging my professional and personal experiences to foster environments where every member of our community can thrive.

Could you tell us more about the Rainbow Wisdom Café and its significance?

One of the first initiatives in this journey is the Rainbow Wisdom Café. This welcoming space is designed specifically for older adults in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community to connect, share, and support each other. The Café is more than just a place to meet; it is a safe haven where individuals can come together, form connections, and build a sense of community. It represents the first step towards what I hope will be a comprehensive range of programs aimed at fostering inclusivity and engagement.

What is your vision for the future of Little Mountain Neighborhood House and its programming?

While the Rainbow Wisdom Café is a significant milestone, it is only the beginning. My vision for Little Mountain Neighborhood House involves expanding our programming to address the diverse needs of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. This includes developing more events, support groups, educational workshops, and partnerships with other organizations to enhance our impact. I am excited to see how these programs will evolve and grow, creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for everyone.

How can others get involved in supporting your mission?

To my colleagues, allies, and members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community: I invite you to join me on this journey. Your support, ideas, and participation are crucial as we work together to build a more inclusive future. Let’s make Little Mountain Neighborhood House a place where everyone feels welcome, supported, and celebrated.

In conclusion, my journey at Little Mountain Neighborhood House has just begun, but the progress we’ve made so far fills me with hope and determination. The Rainbow Wisdom Café is a testament to what we can achieve when we come together with a shared vision of inclusivity. I am excited for what the future holds and am committed to ensuring that our programming continues to grow and evolve to meet the needs of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

Let’s keep pushing forward, breaking down barriers, and creating spaces where everyone can thrive. Together, we can make a difference.

The Rainbow Wisdom Café runs on Thursdays at 6:30 PM to 8 PM at 411 Seniors Centre (3502 Fraser St.) in Vancouver. If you have any questions, please reach out to Craig Malin at craig@lmnhs.bc.ca or by phone at (604) 879-7104 ext. 512. Click here to view and download the event poster and share it with someone who may be interested!

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