"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Monday, December 31, 2012

The Other Side of the Coin

After the last post, I wanted to share this, which arrived in my e-mail this afternoon from Carl Siciliano of the Ali Forney Center:

Dear Friends,

2012 was a year of amazing accomplishments and daunting challenges for the Ali
Forney Center. We kicked off 2012 with a special challenge grant by the Calamus Foundation, matching all new and increased dollars in 2012 (dollar for dollar) towards the opening of the nation’s first 24 Hour Drop In Center for Homeless LGBTQ youth. In June we celebrated our 10th Anniversary marking a decade of providing shelter, housing, and supportive services for young people who are rejected by their families for being who they are.

We saw our work honored by the White House’s Champion of Change Award last July. Also in July we learned that the City of New York would turn over an abandoned building to be developed as an 18-bed long term residence for our youths, to be named in honor of Bea Arthur, with the renovations financed by the NY City Council. And, realizing a long-held dream, we obtained a new space in Harlem for a drop-in center that would be open seven days a week, 24 hours per day.

But, in the greatest challenge we have ever faced, our current drop-in site was destroyed by hurricane Sandy months before we were ready to occupy the new space. Without the generosity and support of the community we would have been crippled in our ability to protect our most vulnerable kids, those struggling to survive in the streets without shelter. But in an extraordinary show of caring and support, thousands of individuals and groups came to our aid, helping us raise the funds to replace what was destroyed and expedite the move into the new space. I cannot possibly list everyone who helped in this short letter, but special mention must be given to the LGBT Center of NYC, who generously gave us space when our drop-in center was itself without a home.

We were able to open in our new site in Harlem a few days before Christmas, though months of renovations remain to be done. And on Christmas eve we were able to serve a wonderful meal to over 50 homeless LGBT youths there. It means so much to me that two short months after the devastation of Sandy we were able to bring so many homeless kids in out of the cold in our new space.

We look forward to 2013. We are eager to complete the renovations in Harlem and finally open overnight (it is always so terrible to close the drop-in center in the evening, knowing so many kids will be out on the streets all night!). The center will also feature a Time Warner Cable Learning Lab, a state of the art technology center for our youth to use to develop and support their educational and career needs. We will soon begin the renovations to the Bea Arthur Residence in the East Village. And we will open a new transitional living residence in Park Slope in the next few months.

I thank you for your kindness and support, and hope that you will consider continuing that support as we face a new year's challenges. Together we can demonstrate that LGBT kids deserve the same love and support as all other kids.

Happy New Year!


224 West 35th Street, Suite 1500, New York, NY 10001

Funny -- I didn't hear anything about the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities stepping in to help out -- did you?

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