Six years ago, Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) Elder Care Advisor Kate Thomas organized a monthly dinner for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults and friends. At a recent event, SCES and the LGBT Aging Project honored her memory with the inaugural Kate Thomas Spirit Award.
Before her untimely passing in 2014, Thomas followed her passion for working with LGBT older adults through her role at SCES. She founded SCES’ LGBT Aging Task Force and the monthly dinner, now known as Kate’s Café. Thomas partnered with Ryles Jazz Club in Inman Square to provide food and venue, and also fostered an ongoing relationship with Harvard College to provide intergenerational programming for LGBT older adults and students.
“Her legacy is reflective of the kindness and creativity she brought to her work,” said current LGBT Aging Task Force Chair Melissa Bryant.
Those qualities also inspired the LGBT Aging Project-– a non-profit focused on the rights and needs of LGBT older adults– to create an award in her name, said organization director Lisa Krinsky.
“We thought the best way for the Aging Project to remember Kate would be an award, to help us keep that legacy of her energy, her spirit, her love for LGBT aging,” said Krinsky. “We wanted to give it to a person who inspires the same feelings and enthusiasm.”
The inaugural award was presented at the February Kate’s Café to Jayne Davis, who is currently the Nutrition Director at HESSCO, the Aging Services Access Point (ASAP) in Sharon.
Davis was previous Nutrition Director at Ethos– the ASAP in Jamaica Plain—and while there created Boston’s Café Emmanuel and Out2Brunch mealsites for LGBT older adults, which were among the first in the state. When she moved to HESSCO, Davis started planning a new community there. With the help of the LGBT Aging Project, she established the Lakeside Café at the Sharon Council on Aging. Davis said the best part of the work has been getting to know the older adults who attend the meals.
“My work with the LGBT older community began 20 years ago, and my greatest gift has been the many friends I have met along the way, who have inspired me to become a better person,” said Davis as she accepted the award.
“I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with and become friends with so many who are here tonight,” she added.
Roughly 90 people attended the dinner, including SCES staff members and friends who came to honor Thomas’ memory. Thomas’ former spouse, Tina Cincotti, spoke about the meaning of the award.
“The best thing that I try to do is keep Kate’s memory alive, and this is a wonderful way to do that. It’s really beautiful to see so many people here, remembering her,” said Cincotti.
The Kate Thomas Spirit Award will be presented annually at the Kate’s Café dinner. Nominations can be submitted to Lisa Krinsky at email@example.com.