The Holidays always bring home to me what the Ali Forney Center is all about.
Our staff and volunteers pour their hearts into making the season a joyous one for the many homeless LGBT youths in our care. Our office transforms into an odd version of Santa's workshop as many kind and generous people show up with wonderful gifts for our kids.
Our staff are busy planning for numerous holiday celebrations at our drop-in center and in our housing programs. So many meals to be cooked, so many gifts to be wrapped. All so that our youths can feel loved, so that they can feel the abundance of a caring community.
We do this to protect our kids from despair and isolation. I'll never forget one of our youths telling me what was the hardest day she experienced while homeless. She was sleeping in the subways, and described waking up on the train on a Christmas morning, and finding herself surrounded by so many people with their families, carrying bags of gifts, or trays of food. All heading to celebrations, while she had nowhere to go.
She said that she never felt more alone than on that Christmas morning; she said that she never felt more like a loser.
We may not be able to prevent LGBT kids from being rejected by their families. But we can make sure that they are not left alone. We can make sure that they feel the love of our community. We can show them that they are precious in our eyes.
On behalf of all the youths who have found safety, support, and a loving home at the Ali Forney Center, I thank you for your invaluable help in making our work possible.
May you have a joyous holiday season!
With heartfelt gratitude,
Ali Forney Center