Pay it 4ward: Woman recognized for helping older LGBTQ+ community

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – When people talk about undeserved communities, a lot of the attention goes to just a few groups – leaving many others alone in the shadows. But one woman is making sure a community of older adults in New Mexico is not forgotten.

"She inspires me every day. She hustles like nobody I have ever met," said Sabrina Parker, Pay It 4ward nominator.

There’s no shortage of good words for Maryanne Miceli, this week’s Pay It 4ward nominee.

"She has helped me through a lot, and she has been there with for me. I could call her anytime when she’s there for me day, night, whatever," said Annette Madrid, friend to Miceli.

Miceli is the founder of Silver Rainbow NM — a local non-profit geared towards caring for elderly members of the LGBTQ+ community, a group that often gets left behind as the years pass.

“So generally, the LGBTQ+ community, typically they do not have children. As we get older, we may not have partners, we may not have family, we may have been estranged from our family, because we are LGBTQ+," said Parker.

Miceli’s group helps folks get to and from doctor’s appointments and offers financial assistance, but most importantly they invite older adults into a community.

“When I had met older folks, and they were struggling with depression and isolation and they were in need of clothing or friends or food, I felt a call to action,” said Miceli.

And after years of hard work — her friends say they felt their own call to action and decided to Pay it 4ward.

"So, I nominated you for the KOB 4 Pay It 4ward because I am so proud of you for everything that you have been through, and for the fact that you’re such a hard worker, and you do such amazing things for your friends, family, for the community. And I think you’re awesome. I love you so much. You’re my best friend,” said Parker.

It didn’t take long for Miceli to figure out how to spend the money.

"This will go towards our very first service or comfort animal,” said Miceli.

She says Silver Rainbow is working to pair older LGBTQ+ adults with service animals to offer a little more companionship.

“Sometimes it’s just to have that little bit of unconditional love that can come from a service animal or support animal,” Miceli said.

She said the group is looking for skilled trainers who are willing to donate their time and is reminding folks a small act of kindness truly goes a long way.

"Even if it’s just a difference to one person. That one person matters.”