Gregg Cassin, founder of Appalachia Volunteers, active voice for LGBT and HIV/AIDs communities, and BC ’80, will speak on the importance of building communities in Cushing 001 on March 22 at 8 p.m.
Cassin graduated from BC with a degree in theology and then moved to San Francisco to join Jesuit volunteers. Cassin currently resides in California and works to create retreats and programs for long-term survivors of the HIV epidemic. Cassin is a 30-year survivor of HIV himself.
Cassin was also honored with the Certificate of Special Recognition from the U.S. Congress, in addition to honors from the City of San Francisco.
Cassin will also speak to a group of Appalachia Volunteer students on Sunday who recently travelled on Spring Break service trips. Cassin will share his story of the challenges of embracing oneself, no matter the roadblocks.
“My message is that in the most challenging times we must find self-discovery and then self-acceptance,” Cassin said. “This is a sacred journey that everyone is obligated to do.”
“In the humblest way, I’ve found comfort, inspiration, and joy with people with the intention of doing important work of helping another. We need to break the isolation of human experience.”
In his message of spreading Jesuit values, Cassin asks the audience to consider questions about themselves in the hope of self-discovery.
“Who are you born to be? Who are you called to be?” Cassin said. “Claim ourselves, no matter the institutions, society, or mainstream ideas. You get to self-define. You get to be the person you want to be.”
While Cassin is coming to BC to speak with the Appalachia Volunteers group, he also hopes to reach out to the broader BC community through the GLTBQ Leadership Council.
Nick Minieri, chair of GLC and CSOM ’16, helped organize Cassin’s talk to BC students. Minieri wants students to understand that Cassin’s work with the LGBTQ community is connected to Jesuit values. Cassin’s goal is to develop communities in which students are able to break down their walls and open themselves up to others.
“The thing that I’ve always been drawn to is building community,” Cassin said. “In the humblest way, I’ve found comfort, inspiration, and joy with people with the intention of doing important work of helping another. We need to break the isolation of human experience.”
Featured Image Courtesy of Gregg Cassin