A native of West Philadelphia, Seth Jacobson graduated from Philadelphia’s High School for the Creative and Performing Arts in 2003. As a first-generation college student, Seth studied Psychology and Religious Studies at Chestnut Hill College (CHC). After completing his undergraduate degree, Seth enrolled as an AmeriCorps*VISTA and provided civic engagement training sessions to over 1,500 first year students and brought to the center the Guiding Youth to Careers (GYC) program, matching students with West Philadelphia high school students in mentor/mentee relationships. Upon completing his year of service, Seth was asked to start and direct a similar initiative with middle school students. In 2013, Seth earned his Masters Degree through Drexel’s Global & International Education program. He is a current PhD student, and his research surrounds the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality and the ways in which individuals and organizations work to transform the Church to create space for LGBT advocacy.
Lauren Puzen completed her Masters in Social Work and Masters in Public Health from Temple University. Her areas of study included management and program planning and evaluation, with specific interest areas in childhood obesity, nutrition and physical activity. Lauren’s passion for reducing childhood obesity began at the University of Scranton, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. For 10+ years, she has worked in positive youth development programs promoting health.
Through their passion to find a space where they fit in, four years ago, Lauren and Seth created a young adult community at Old Saint Joseph’s Church in Philadelphia. The community was created with the intention of having a safe space of inclusion of the LGBTQA community in the Catholic Church. Through incredible partnership with the parish and growth among the community, it became a place of support for many. Over a year ago, a similar intention was made…create a safe space for LGBTQA youth at LUCY in Camden. Let’s just say the rest is history!
After graduating from St. Joseph’s University, Bridget Moran set off to her post-college Jesuit Volunteer year where she worked with hospice patients in Seattle, WA. Upon her return to Philadelphia, she worked in a community mental health center assessing and coordinating services for children with autism, along with working with the homeless population there. She eventually made her way back to work with youth as a home-based counselor doing therapy with inner-city families whose children had experienced psychological trauma. Bridget connected with LUCY after earning her Masters of Public Health, who let her know about LUCY, and that the youth had been asking for an LBGT group. Bridget knew this would be the perfect place to help out.
Since Seth, Lauren and Bridget have become involved meetings have grown from one or two personal stories into youth-led support groups, a youth leadership team who works to set the agenda and direction of the group and dozens of events, speakers, a GSA training and panels. The three have been so impressed by how eager the youth are to make this group their own and hopes it will continue to physically and emotionally grow into a youth-sustained program at LUCY, where everyone feels safe, hopeful and content just being who they are. All three volunteers are thrilled to be working with all of the wonderful LUCY youth.