South Charlotte

Charlotte group wants to help LBGT families navigate new law

From left, Connie Vetter, Tatiana Moreland, Helene Nathanson, Amy Wallas Fox, Will Hashemi and Traci Mayo plan Charlotte Family Resource workshops.
From left, Connie Vetter, Tatiana Moreland, Helene Nathanson, Amy Wallas Fox, Will Hashemi and Traci Mayo plan Charlotte Family Resource workshops. COURTESY OF JESSICA MILICEVIC

Will Hashemi drove to Mecklenburg Courthouse on Oct.10.

He felt inspired by his friend Jessica Milicevic, a wedding officiate and LGBT activist who married 16 same-sex couples on Day One: the first day Amendment One was overturned in North Carolina, legally allowing same-sex couples to marry.

Hashemi said it was a privilege to witness couples get married that day.

“It feels really good to see families come together,” he said.

Over the next few months, Hashemi and Milicevic brainstormed ways they could continue helping lesbian, gay, bixesual, transgender and questioning families. Hashemi, a 37-year-old financial adviser for financial planning firm Waddell & Reed, wanted to use his knowledge of financial planning to help LGBT families navigate and build on the responsibilities that marriage brings.

Hashemi said his mentor, Craig Clement, managing partner at Waddell & Reed, taught him to be a resource for the community.

Hashemi decided to create Charlotte Family Resource, a community organization consisting of a panel of professional experts who could help LGBT families prepare and plan for their future.

Charlotte Family Resource Executive Director Milicevic, a 29-year-old resident of Steele Creek, said, “Our mission is to help you get the information you need.”

Charlotte Family Resource will provide free informative workshops, including free child care, 6:30 p.m. every first Thursday of the month, starting March 5. It will address topics surrounding the life cycle of a family: marriage, merging benefits and finances, children, divorce and death.

Each workshop will consist of an informational session and question-and-answer session. At least one lawyer and Hashemi will be at most meetings to discuss how the law and finances merge with each topic.

The first topic will be marriage and weddings; Milicevic and Connie Vetter will be the presenters. Milicevic said she will talk about the process of filing for a marriage certificate, as well as how to efficiently plan for the event. Vetter will discuss how laws have changed and what to expect.

Examples of future topics include health insurance and benefits, savings, adoption, fertility options, surrogacy, estate planning, advanced health-care directives and living wills.

Hashemi and Milicevic gathered a team of experts who are volunteering their time to teach and support LGBT couples. Those experts are attorneys Vetter, Tatiana Moreland and Amy Wallas Fox; human resources professional Chad Sevearance; mortgage broker Traci Mayo; adoption services Executive Director Helene Nathanson; and fertility specialist Dr. Susannah Copland. Milicevic will cover weddings and Hashemi will cover financial planning.

Hashemi, who lives in Ballantyne, said, “The most successful people in the world have mentors; for me, to have Craig as a mentor is priceless. My approach with clients is one as a mentor and that is our approach for Charlotte Family Resource.”

“The passion (CFR experts) have for human rights is evident, and they are so moved by what’s happening in our country, as far this community is concerned,” Milicevic said. “They want to help and are thrilled to provide them with information and support.”

Vetter said she has more than 20 years of experience as an activist for the LGBT community.

“Meeting people where they have needs and providing good, accurate and useful information is a very good thing,” she said. “There have been a lot of changes in the law and other areas in the last few months and folks have a lot of questions.”

Attorney and executive director of Southern Surrogacy Fox will guide couples through the process of egg donation and gestational surrogacy.

Fox, a Sedgefield resident, said, “I am hopeful that Charlotte Family Resource will successfully educate the LGBT community about how to build and secure their families. It is of vital importance for all people to know their options when it comes to something so sacred and personal.”

Crystal O’Gorman is a freelance writer.