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SAGE Atlanta announces referral help line for LGBT seniors

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Specifically geared toward LGBT seniors, the Health Initiative's SAGE Atlanta program offers a variety of services for Atlanta's LGBT elders. Today, the program announced a new information and referral service it hopes will connect those in need with more than 25,000 local providers.

Originally founded in 1996 by Dennie Doucher, Sherry Hale and Linda McGehee as the Atlanta Lesbian Cancer Initiative, the Health Initiative has gone through a series of changes in its 17-year history, but its focus has always centered around health and wellness.

Information and Referral Assistance will allow those in need to find solutions that match unique needs, such as income and other factors, the Health Initiative says. I&R/A will be a free service thanks to a grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission. It's also open to those with disabilities, not just elders.

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Editor's Note: This story was published in October. On Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012, the Atlanta premier of the film “Gen Silent” screens as the first fundraiser for SAGE Atlanta, which provides support and social opportunities for LGBT elders. Tickets are $10 and the movie begins at 7:30 p.m. at Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Drive, Atlanta, GA 30308. Visit SAGE Atlanta at www.facebook.com/sageatl.

It’s a recent Thursday morning and five women and one man are sitting around a table at the Phillip Rush Center in Candler Park, playing a derivation of Canasta called Hand and Foot. The game is quick-paced as the players lay one card down after another.

The players are members of the newly formed Atlanta chapter of SAGE USA, Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders. SAGE Atlanta meets every Thursday starting at 10 a.m. for cards and social hour with programming beginning at 11 a.m.

Ages of those seated around the table range from 60 to 74. All are active, able to drive and live fairly comfortably. But all also seek companionship with older people who are like themselves.