As fun as it can be to catch up with friends from time to time, it's often a healthy thing. In fact, the Mayo Clinic reports that friendships can be a critical element for good mental health and wellbeing. Program Coordinator at The Center for Lesbian and Queer Women and Girls Kathie Griffin-Futch recognized that when she planned her upcoming Women's Friendship Month Brunch at the Kofi House.
"And that's going to be Sept. 19 at the Kofi House in the yard," Griffin-Futch said. "… This is going to be an annual event every September because September is Women's Friendship Month and I want to highlight women and friendship. Because that's what the CLQ program is about: empowering LGBTQ women, creating a safe space for those women and having a space where LGBTQ+ women can come and feel comfortable."
Recognizing the safety precautions that must be taken for public gatherings because of the novel coronavirus, Griffin-Futch has restricted attendance to 25 participants, will hand out masks for all attendees, provide sanitization stations, require the completion of a health questionnaire and take temperature checks. She added that the seats and tables for this outdoor event are within social distancing guidelines, too. The event's keynote speaker will be Dr. Sheryl Simmons.
"She is a good friend of Dr. Kofi's [for whom the Kofi House is named], she was a resident of Highland Park, she had an appointed position with President Obama, she is a nurse," Griffin-Futch said. "She heard what we were doing and she's an ally for the LGBTQ+ community and she wanted to be a sponsor, so she is sponsoring the brunch."
Because of the sponsorship, attendance is free and each participant will receive a copy of Simmons' book on friendship, "My Friendtastic Life," and a T-shirt from the event. While tickets to attend the event in-person are sold out, Grifin-Futch encourages those who are interested to follow the CQL Facebook page for updates and month-long Friendship-related programming.
"We have a whole agenda. We'll play a couple of games regarding women and friendship, and the friendship brunch is really to just acknowledge friendships with women — platonic and intimate friendships," Griffin-Futch said. "We're going to have some stories told about long-term friendships, and Simmons is our keynote speaker, so she's going to talk a bit about when friendships go bad, go good, what we can do to get them back together and why women and friendships are important."
When asked why she feels highlighting camaraderie among women is valuable, Griffin-Futch cited the current pandemic.
"If COVID-19 has taught us anything, [it's that] friendships are important," she said. "Because the world is changing so rapidly, if you're friends with somebody, you should make time for them just like you make time for everybody else."
The Kofi House is located at 135 Hazelwood St. in Detroit. Find out more about it and its services online at ruthelliscenter.org.