||Speaking first hasn't always come naturally for George. Thankfully, he found the courage and conviction to be a voice for change.
In honor of Pride Month, we're featuring a long-time advocate of our Health Center - and Lowell's LGBTQ+ community.
If you've met George Nugent, you probably know him to be confident, kind, and charismatic.
As a LGBTQ teen, George struggled to find his voice. "There weren't a lot of role models for teens coming out in the 1990s," he recalls. Then, a perceptive health teacher handed him a purple flier. That's how George became involved in the Pride Alliance, a support group for LGBTQ teens at Lowell Community Health Center.
And that's where this self-described introvert found his voice - along with the confidence to start the Lowell High School Gay/Straight Alliance.
"Going to that program at Lowell CHC meant taking a big step forward in affirming who I am. It taught me to be a leader and not only to speak up, but to listen. Those are the building blocks for success."
While finishing up his college degree in Communications, George was eager to return home to Lowell. Remembering the support he'd received during his own challenging adolescence, he accepted a job working with the Lowell Teen Coalition (which would evolve into Lowell CHC's Teen BLOCK).
"I wanted to show youth who were struggling that there was another path - to help them advocate for themselves and their community."
That's why George, and the rest of the Teen Coalition, started Dance 4 Peace, an annual evening of performance art centered around topics of non-violence where the teens literally run the show.
Dance 4 Peace was a hit from the start, growing to attract crowds of over 1,000.
"You have to trust in the youth enough to let them lead. We empowered them to make this their event," George says emphatically.
George remained at Lowell CHC for 12 years, eventually serving as Communications Director during one of the biggest periods of growth in the Health Center's history.
Driven to broaden his community impact, George went on to work at the Greater Lowell Community Foundation. Today, he serves as Vice President of Marketing for Enterprise Bank, a homegrown businesses known for its commitment to community and social justice.
"The same way Lowell CHC is a Community Health Center, Enterprise is a Community Bank. It's about people and for people.
It's one of the reasons I'm so glad to work here."
George's time at Lowell CHC, both as a teen and an employee, remains close to his heart.
The Health Center is more than health care.
From my early experiences as a youth, I've had the opportunity to meet so many different people, hear their stories - that connection is powerful."
Along the way, George has taken every opportunity to address the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community. He is the consummate connector, bringing people together to advocate for broader, systemic change. His legacy certainly lives on at the Health Center, where he was instrumental in developing LGBTQ+ training for employees, which continues to this day.
When asked what keeps him going, George recites a favorite quote:
"You may have to speak first so that others who don't have the strength or opportunity can find their voices."
Thanks to George, hundreds of our friends and neighbors have been given that opportunity. They have found their voices.