Angela Marie Leppard : Community Treasure

Angela Marie Leppard : Community Treasure

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Story by Ingrid Sjostrand
Photos by Bernie LaFramboise

ANGELA MARIE LIPPARD IS AN ADVOCATE in every sense of the word. Through her job at the Area Agency on Aging B-1, she helps aid older LGBTQ adults in receiving assistance and promotes learning and acceptance. Lippard also volunteers with Christ the Good Shepherd church as a deacon, where she works to represent the church as a supportive, safe place.

Lippard spoke to me about what she has learned through advocacy, how others can get involved and, of course, her love for Ferndale

IS: What sparked your involvement and advocacy with the LGBTQ community?
AML: I am married to a man, so most people presume I’m straight, but I am a part of the community; I’m an out bisexual. Those in the LGBT community have always been in my circle of friends and part of my family of choice.

IS: Can you tell me more about your job at Area Agency on Aging 1-B and projects that involve LGBTQ outreach?
AML: I have been employed at the Agency for over ten years. The information we offer ranges from housing to funding for long term care to Medicare basics. Last fiscal year, our call center received just under 90,000 calls. Our agency is a non-profit.

I am so very thankful to work for an agency that has long been LGBT affirming. We have staff dedicated to training healthcare and other human service professionals on best practices when providing services to LGBT older adults.

Because I could attend several trainings for serving LGBT older adults and the knowledge I’ve gained from serving the LGBTQ community, I have been utilized to train staff at our agency. This was an honor, because it gave me the opportunity to be out to agency staff, and spend more time talking about the trans population and give staff resources.

IS: Tell me more about the Christ the Good Shepherd Church and your volunteer work as Deacon?
AML: I have a degree in religious studies from the University of Detroit Mercy,
and while I’ve been employed in human services my call to ministry never went away. As a deacon I officiate weddings, which has included some of my dearest friends in the LGBT community. I offer funeral and memorial services. I also preach at Mass, and provide support to our church members.
Our church is new and our community is still growing. However, we have very gifted clergy in our priests and other fellow deacons. We have a community that is very giving, too. Most of my work as a deacon is outside the church. I make sure our church is represented at Ferndale Pride and Transgender Pride in the Park. I also try to attend every event for the transgender community to show support. I will volunteer when possible, but I am careful just to attend because that is a space for me to listen and people in the trans community to be heard.

IS: Why do you think this advocacy is important and what advice do you have for others wanting to get involved?
AML: Outside of caring and acting out of genuine concern for others, we better ourselves by advocating for the marginalized. There are several areas to advocate…Show up, learn and listen. I encourage people to go to events like the Transgender Day of Remembrance (November) and Transgender Day of Visibility (March). Read stories from diverse perspectives within the LGBT community—remember the ‘T’—remember people of color and people with diverse economic backgrounds. If you listen and learn, the community will tell you what they need from you and how and where to advocate.

IS: What made you choose Ferndale?
AML: I have always had a connection to the city. My mom has worked in Ferndale for 38 years. I went to school at the University of Detroit Mercy, so Ferndale was a regular hang-out when I was in college.
In 2005, I moved to a small apartment in Ferndale. My husband, Paul Collom (I kept my last name), moved in not too long after. Paul and I bought a house in Ferndale in 2009. More specifically, my husband and I come from ethnically diverse backgrounds, and we wanted to live in a community that was not only open to, but celebrated, diversity.

IS: What is your favorite thing about Ferndale?
AML: I love that Ferndale has the feeling and energy of a large city, but small enough where I can get to know people in the community—where elected officials know my name and are willing to hear my concerns.

I hope people make a commitment to keep our city diverse and welcoming.