We are excited to share a blog from our Georgia Chapter Leader, Kelli Blundell who tells us about her experience as a Tour stop for the Don’t Hide Your Pride Free Mom Hugs Tour.
Our first day started at The Village Church where Sara and Parker were interviewed by Pastor Ray Waters and teaching Pastor Stan Mitchell. Parker even sang two songs. The church and its congregation welcomed us with open arms and is one of the most supportive and affirming churches we have ever attended. After church, we were all invited to Pastor Ray and wife Jane Waters’ house, where we had lunch and continued lively and meaningful fellowship which was full of love and acceptance. We told each other our stories and we laughed, cried, and then laughed until we cried.
That evening, we went to Lips Atlanta for dinner and a drag show. Sara and Parker were able to speak about the Free Mom Hug organization sharing our mission. We enjoyed food, music, each other’s company and of course, QUEENS! Lips Atlanta has always welcomed the Georgia Chapter with open arms and has supported us from the very beginning.
On our second day, the Georgia chapter went to Highland Bakery to have brunch with Sara and Parker. Everyone was encouraged to come by to introduce themselves. Highland Bakery is LGBTQ owned and affirming. We were so grateful to be able to spend time there together again. For most it, we were sad to have to say goodbye to Sara and Parker.
The next day Sara and Parker set off to Savannah for the last night in Georgia. Kelli, one of our chapter leaders and Shaun, a volunteer with us left for Savannah as well to continue the tour. In Savannah we went to the Starland Yards where a table set up with two Savannah area leaders and plenty of volunteers. People were curious and stopped by the table to mingle. Sara and Parker were the most gracious guests and enjoyed speaking to everyone to spread our message.
We left Starland Yards and headed to Club One, the only gay club in Savannah. When we arrived, there were very few people and not a lot going on. But that didn’t stop Sara from reaching out to those who were there to talk to them and make a connection. When Terry, the karaoke goddess arrived, we SANG! We all sang Don’t Stop Believing by Journey! We were AWESOME! We left that place a little better for having just been there.
Here are a couple of questions we asked our volunteers about their time with Sara and Parker:
What was the best part of your visit?
How do you even begin to pick a “best part?” The highlight for sure was just getting to spend time with Sara and Parker talking about why the Free Mom Hug organization is so dear to all of us. We were able to talk about our “why” and Sara validated all of our feelings. She was able to see how important we thought this mission is to all of us. She made us feel like we are an important part of making an impact for change in Georgia. And I will tell you—getting to hear Parker sing was pretty special too! – LeeAnn
My favorite part was the lifetime connection I feel like I made with a lot of very special people and especially Sara and Parker. They are so genuine and loving that you can just feel the love ooze off them. You just can’t help but fall in love with them both. My new BFF, Parker, and I bonded over silliness and mirth. I will always cherish the time we had. – Kelli
The best part about Sara and Parker’s visit was that we were able to come together to empower and show so much love to many different people. I was honestly star struck. This whole experience has filled my heart with joy. I can truly say that the best part is the organization as a whole. I definitely stand taller, show up and show out more now than I ever have before. – Kati
How did you feel when they left?
Oh my—there were so many emotions! It was such an honor to have the opportunity to meet Sara and Parker. We were inspired to do our best to support as many people as possible. We were enthusiastic about representing Free Mom Hugs and planning our calendar for June Pride month—with new leadership in place and growing our membership. It was bittersweet when Sara and Parker left—but several of our members went with her to Savannah to continue the tour. We learned so much and are excited to keep the momentum going. – LeeAnn
When we were leaving Club One, our Uber was about 15 minutes out and Sara and Parker insisted on staying with us until it arrived. That extra 15 minutes really solidified the love I had formed in such a short time for these two humans. It was so bittersweet to part with them. On one hand I was sad that it would be a while before I would get to see them again. One the other hand, I knew they were going to continue their journey and spreading more love to the leaders, volunteers and the community we love. Plus, I get to look forward to the next time we meet. – Kelli
When they left I wish I would had more time with them. Their visit opened my mind a little more and the fire within me to share hugs and uplifting messages grew. I am so honored to be a part of this big presence. – Kati
Why is the Free Mom Hugs Tour important?
For our chapter, the tour is so important because we got to witness firsthand the importance of the Free Mom Hugs organization. We were contacted by a young man who told us a bit of his story about not feeling accepted. He drove all the way from another state and was welcomed by all his new “moms”. There were laughs, tears and lots of loving conversation that bonded us together. I don’t think he realized he would end up with so many of us loving and supporting him. What a great feeling! This tour really embraced the FMH mission of “empowering the world to embrace the LGBTQIA+ community through visibility, education, and conversation.” We are so honored to be able to do just that.
Overall, the FMH Tour is important to connect the chapters, the leaders, the volunteers, and the community to the bigger picture. It helps to ignite the already smoldering fire in the hearts of those that love this organization. It helps us feel like we’re all in this together. From the planning, to watching the tour happen through other’s pictures, videos, and stories on the individual chapter’s pages. We’re in this together and we’re all important, every single one of us.
This was our 5th annual Free Mom Hugs tour across America. To support future tours or our programs and initiatives at the state level, you can become a monthly donor or provide a one-time gift. Any dollar amount you want to give helps us further the mission of Free Mom Hugs.