I am so happy we have Ellen and Liz in Connecticut leading our chapter. Liz and Ellen are among the first to raise their hands to take on extra volunteer time or offering love and support to other leaders. Free Mom Hugs is better because of the work that Ellen does for her community.

When we asked Ellen to answer questions about her work with Free Mom Hugs this is what she had to say:

My name is Ellen Hart, and I’m pleased and honored to be one of the Chapter Leaders for Free Mom Hugs Connecticut!

I first learned about Free Mom Hugs early in 2019, when I came across an article about Sara, her attendance at Pride parades giving hugs, and her offer to be a stand-in mom at weddings. Like so many others, I was so touched and moved by this and I shared the article on my Facebook page, with a comment about how I would love to do this too. Almost immediately, I had friends commenting “I’m in!” and “Sign me up!” I thought, OK then, I guess we’re doing it! Liz (my co-leader) reached out to me and I asked her to get in touch with the National organization and find out if there was a CT chapter. And the rest is history!

I have three phenomenal kids of my own, ages 26, 24 and 19.  My oldest identifies as Bisexual, although I only found that out recently! I’ve taught, coached and volunteered for scholastic and community theater groups for years, as my kids have all been involved with theater. I’ve always been “that” mom who loves my kids’ friends like my own, and many of them have felt comfortable coming out to me over the years. In some cases they come out to me when they haven’t even felt safe to be out at their own home. This has always broken my heart a little, but they always know they have a safe place with me.

It’s such a beautiful, positive, natural way for me to use my passion and my maternal energy to reach out to the LGBTQIA+ community with support, love, hugs and all the things that come naturally to me.

Feeling somewhat distressed about the political climate in our country, I had been looking for a way to engage in more social activism and do more for the marginalized or at-risk community. When my youngest left for college and I became an empty nester, I discovered Free Mom Hugs. That’s when it all came together! It’s such a beautiful, positive, natural way for me to use my passion and my maternal energy to reach out to the LGBTQIA+ community with support, love, hugs and all the things that come naturally to me. I am also passionate about educating and enlightening people with conversation and discussion.

What a whirlwind the first year has been! I had so many beautiful moments including marching at Pride parades, hugging and chatting with folks, meeting LGBTQIA+ community leaders and engaging with them to make a difference. It always amazes me how happy people are to see us in our Free Mom Hugs shirts. I am excited to be a part of this organization and so thrilled to be involved with bringing this into Connecticut. I think the most profound moment for me was this past January, when we attended a Drag Queen Story Hour at Norwalk Public Library. We had heard from the organizers that a protest group was planning to be there, so I went early and brought our big banner. I asked the library director if she would like us to stay outside and act as a shield between the arriving families and the protesters so that no child would feel bullied, scared or unsafe. We formed a line along the sidewalk and greeted all the families and kids with warm smiles and welcoming words (and hugs of course!). It touched me so deeply to be able not only to provide this for the families, the organizers, and the performers, but to know that we were there to (literally) stand up to hate, to truly counter that ugliness with a show of pure positivity, It was a very empowering feeling.

We had so much planned for this year and it was strange to be put on pause when we had so much momentum going into 2020. But focusing on our digital presence at the moment is allowing us to be more creative in finding ways to stay engaged, present and accessible. We have been holding weekly Zoom social meetings, as well as, promoting the online events of our local LGBTQIA+ community center and performances by our local artists like Drag Queen Story Times and a nightly cooking show!

Being a part of Free Mom Hugs has been an honor and a joy! I just keep reminding myself and others how lovely it will feel when we can give in-person HUGS again!

If you would like to be involved with Free Mom Hugs and volunteer with Ellen then email [email protected]