Finding safe spaces to exist as you are is a simple joy in the lives of those that are LGBTQIA+. For many living in North Idaho, finding friends, groups, accepting organizations, and even finding places that help one’s anxiety remain minimal while out and about is scarce. It can be life-giving to find a place where one can meet with peers, discover the depths of who they are, and be loved.
Heritage Health’s Family Support Services offers a weekly LGBTQIA+ group that meets once a week on Wednesdays at 6795 N Mineral Drive in Coeur d’Alene. Adults above 18 meet at 4:15 PM and youth/teens meet at 5:00 PM.
The group was started last June by Melinda Soltys, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with Heritage, who is now co-hosting the group with Licensed Clinical Counselor, Kim Hudlet. Over the last year, Melinda has seen growth within those who attend the groups; watching people become more comfortable and accepting of themselves and learning new things about themselves and their friends in the group. In North Idaho, one of the greatest dilemmas for those in the LGBTQ+ community is not feeling comfortable to be who they are, especially for trans people.
Something heartwarming that Melinda has seen over the years in this area is that because there are so many younger people accepting their identities at a young age, adults are in turn accepting and finding themselves later in life. For those interested in attending groups, if you have an outside counselor, you can attend. If you do not have a current counselor, you can call Heritage Health for an assessment and begin counseling and attending groups.
The main goal of groups such as these existing in North Idaho is to bring acceptance, not just toleration, to our area. “Seeing people become who they are is my favorite part of this job. And their gender identity or orientation is just a small piece of themselves but it brings out more of their authentic selves once they discover and become comfortable with that,” Soltys said.
If you are searching for LGBTQ-friendly counseling services or are interested in the group offered at Heritage Health, feel free to reach out to Melinda or Kim. Living out your life in its fullness is a great gift, one everyone is worthy of and if this is something that can help you in any way, I encourage you to try it.
Melinda Soltys: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kim Hudlet: KHudlet@myheritagehealth.org