This is a huge blow to an already bloated, under-funded network of support for homeless or displaced LGBT youth here in New York City: the Ali Forney Center on 22nd Street between 10th and 11th Avenues was completely flooded during last week's Hufficane Sandy.
Yesterday we were finally able to inspect our drop-in center in
Chelsea, half a block from the Hudson River. Our worst fears were
realized; everything was destroyed and the space is uninhabitable. The
water level went four feet high, destroying our phones, computers,
refrigerator, food and supplies.
This is a terrible tragedy for the homeless LGBT youth we serve there.
This space was dedicated to our most vulnerable kids, the thousands
stranded on the streets without shelter, and was a place where they
received food, showers, clothing, medical care, HIV testing and
treatment, and mental health and substance abuse services. Basically a
lifeline for LGBT kids whose lives are in danger.
We are currently scrambling for a plan to provide care to these
desperate kids while we prepare to ultimately move into a larger space
that will better meet our needs. The NYC LGBT Center has very kindly and
generously offered to let us temporarily use some of their space, and
we hope to determine the viability of that on Monday.
We have been deluged with kind offers from people who wish to
volunteer and donate goods. Unfortunately, we will have to provide our
services in the time being in much smaller spaces that won't accommodate
volunteers or allow for much storage space. The best way people can
reach out to help in this very challenging time is by making monetary
donations. Please go to our website.
It is heartbreaking to see this space come to such a sad end. For the
past seven years it has been a place of refuge to thousands of kids
reeling from being thrown away by their parents for being LGBT. For many
of these kids coming to our drop-in center provided their first
encounter with a loving and affirming LGBT community. I thank all of you
for your care and support in a most difficult time.
Those of you who want to donate to help the center rebuild should click HERE.
[Image via Washington Blade]