When Sandy destroyed the Ali Forney drop-in program, we were faced with an unprecedented challenge. How would we provide for the hundreds of homeless LGBT youths who turned to us for help while trying to survive on the streets? How would we raise the funds to replace what was lost and move into a new home?
What happened next seems like a miracle. The LGBT Community Center quickly offered us space to continue our drop-in services. And as news of our loss spread quickly, a great many people reached out to help us, generously sending donations, and creating fundraising events. And now four weeks after the terrible storm, we have raised the $400K in funds we needed to replace what was lost and to move into a new home.
But significant challenges remain. For every day we respond to a two-fold disaster, that of family rejection and inadequate resources. Every day youths come to us heartbroken and terrified after being driven from their homes. And every day we are forced to turn many of these youths into the streets because there are far too few shelter beds available. It is terrible to see kids cry when they realize they will have to spend the night in the streets.
So we want our new drop-in center to be open 24 hours a day, so that we can help these poor kids during the night. And we need to turn to our supporters to help us keep our shelters open, as we face the challenge of the loss of federal funding for 21 of our shelter beds next summer.
I am greatly encouraged by the overwhelming generosity and caring so many of you have shown our kids after Sandy And I hope that you will continue to stand by us as we work to raise the funds to better meet their needs. Together we can wipe the tears from their eyes and give them homes where they can be loved and affirmed for who they are. With your help we can build a better future for our kids.
I thank you for all your kindness and support, and wish you a joyful holiday season.
Executive Director, Ali Forney Center
On Friday 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. Also, I am especially thankful that none of our housing sites were affected by the hurricane and that none of our clients or staff were injured by the storm.
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.
- Carl Siciliano
Our Drop-in Center has temporally relocated to the LGBT Center located at 208 West 13th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues). Our hours of operation are 10:00am-5:30pm and our phone number is 646.358.1755.
Ali Forney Center/ATTN: Andria Ottley, 224 West 35th St, Suite 1500 NY,NY 10001
ALI FORNEY CENTER DIRECTOR ON IMPACT OF HURRICANE SANDY ON LGBT HOMELESS YOUTH