With her lifelong work as a special education teacher, her success establishing Gay-Straight Alliances in K-12 Chicago schools from 1995-2003, and her laundry list of accolades, you’d think Toni Armstrong Jr. would come to Palm Beach to take a break. But with the success of BLAST, you probably understand why she hasn’t stopped.

Armstrong successfully runs Bi, Lesbian, and Straight Together, or BLAST, a 1,400 member community group that’s aimed to serve the women of Palm Beach County. In a little more than five years since its creation, BLAST hosts everything from dance lessons to snorkeling to discussion groups.

“Prior to BLAST, it was very difficult for women to meet women for the purpose of doing things together based on shared interests,” Armstrong said. “BLAST is about creating an interesting and supportive community for women to be part of.”

BLAST is truly community-driven: there is no board of directors or elected officers. Armstrong said the calendar has 3-6 events every week, and there’s no membership fee. Armstrong sees much growth in the next five years.

“BLAST will be empowering women to try new things and giving free publicity to woman-centric events,” Armstrong said. “Every month some BLAST member suggests a great new idea, and as a community, we figure out how to make as many of them happen as we can.”

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