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Pride vs. Prejudice: Family Service Senior Peer Counseling Program Helps LGBT Older Adults

During Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month in June, one nonprofit is renewing its effort to inform LGBT older adults in San Mateo County of a free resource that helps them stand proud and overcome prejudice. Family Service Agency of San Mateo County, a San Mateo-based nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of children, families and older adults, provides free peer counseling to LGBT older adults age 55-plus through its groundbreaking Senior Peer Counseling Program. Launched in 2008, the Senior Peer Counseling Program trains volunteers to provide free one-on-one and group peer counseling to older adults in the LGBT community who struggle with a unique set of challenges particular to their sexual orientation and gender identity. The program—which serves the LGBT community and other clients in English and also provides counseling in Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin and Tagalog—is on the cusp of renewing a one-year, $283,140 contract from San Mateo County’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Division to continue through June 2011. As such, the Senior Peer Counseling Program is seeking LGBT clients to benefit from the counseling, as well as volunteers to serve them.

Family Service is seeking volunteers age 50-plus who are caring individuals to serve as peer counselors for the program’s LGBT component. Volunteers will serve older adults living in San Mateo County, should have access to a reliable car, and should be willing to make a one-year commitment. Following volunteer training sessions, peer counseling takes place at a mutually agreeable location for the counselor and client. To volunteer, please contact Geri Lustenberg at 650-403-4300, x4389 or glustenberg@fssm.org.

To qualify to receive free counseling through Family Service’s Senior Peer Counseling Program, LGBT older adults must reside in San Mateo County and be 55 years or older. Both individual and group therapy sessions are available. Family Service Agency of San Mateo County is a private nonprofit organization that for 60 years has helped Peninsula children, families and older adults transform their lives through the provision of programs and services including: child development and education; supervised family visitation and exchange; older worker employment and training; support services for older adults; and family loans. Nearly 20,000 people in need are assisted annually. For more information, please call 650-403-4300 or visit http://www.familyserviceagency.org/

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