You may recall that at the beginning of 2011 we asked you for your dreams and desires for the 12 months ahead. Apart from finding a partner to fall in love with (anybody get lucky?), your most suggested idea was ‘equal rights for all gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people around the world’. Cool choice!
We listened to your ideas and promised to donate some cash to an organisation that supports LGBT rights, and, with your valued donations, together we managed to raise a rather nice sum of $1,086! Well. Done. YOU!
Seriously, we know times are difficult (crisis, crisis, bla bla bla…) and really appreciated all of your contributions. But someone who will appreciate them even more will be all the members of the LGBT community that will benefit from your hard-earned pennies. So who are they? After much deliberation, we have finally decided to give the money raised to… DRUMROLL PLEASE… THE LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY CENTER in New York City.
We considered many organisations, but what we love about The Center (as they are also known), is that it works hard at a ‘grassroots’ level to achieve its goals and fulfill its mission. We see Gays.com as a community and family, and The Center acts just like that, too. Its mission is to:
“Provide a home for the birth, nurture and celebration of our organizations, institutions and culture; cares for our individuals and groups in need; educates the public and our community; and empowers our individuals and groups to achieve their fullest potential.”
GREAT! So, what kind of stuff goes on at The Center? Where will your money go? Well, a lot, a lot, A LOT! We’re telling you! And all of it bloody amazing!
- More than 300 LGBT groups use the space
- Supports our community through arts and culture programs
- Offers recovery programs for those struggling with addiction
- Provides HIV/AIDS prevention programs
- Develop life-affirming programs for LGBT youth
Here are just a few examples of some of their projects and success stories:
1) The Center Foster Care Project
The Center’s Foster Care Project works to enhance the lives of LGBT young people in New York City’s Foster Care system. Their interns co-facilitate trainings and share their personal experiences with public officials at the Administration for Children’s Services to ensure that agencies treat LGBT foster youth with respect and dignity.
“Jasmine” (pictured below) is the 21-year-old adoptive mother to her two siblings. Formally a foster child herself, Jasmine connected with the Center’s Youth Enrichment Services (YES) program and found the support she needed to move forward with her life.
She is now interning with The Center’s Foster Care Project where she educates a host of decision makers about the challenges she overcame as a lesbian teenager growing up in the foster system. By sharing her experiences with foster care agencies, Jasmine is changing the lives of hundreds of LGBT kids in the foster care system for the better.
2) The Center Summer Camp
An annual event, the Youth Enrichment Services Summer Community Camp for LGBTQA youth (ages 13 to 22) provides a powerful, week-long gathering where campers learn about themselves, LGBTQ history, ways to keep themselves safe in the face of HIV, and other issues impacting our communities.
The Center’s summer camp continues to develop young LGBTQ people into confident, empowered leaders. For many of the young campers, YES Summer Community Camp is not only their first time outside of New York City, but also the beginning of happier and healthier lives.
One camper, Sarah, said: “Camp completely changed my life. I always heard the stories but never really believed it until I went. I’ve never had an experience that helped me to understand myself as well as camp did. I learned who my true friends are and I also learned what my biggest fears are and how I can start to change that. I cannot wait for next summer.”
3) Trans on the Sands
Every August the Gender Identity Project holds its annual Trans on the Sands event. Last year, at Coney Island Beach, more than 80 attended, including trans and gender non-conforming people, partners, family members and allies. Having a day at the beach is important to this community because it encourages community members to get out of their homes and enjoy the outdoors and integration into mainstream society. One of the participants was a young woman who traveled all the way from Delaware. She came to introduce herself and to thank The Center for providing her with the support she needed. She said: “Back home we don’t have a place such as The Center, a place where I can just be myself.” Participants were able to connect to these service providers while starting new friendships, once again highlighting The Center’s work to promote health and wellbeing in the LGBT community.
So, there you go! We’re sure you’ll agree that The Center’s work is integral to the LGBT community in NYC and beyond. For more information about its great work, check out the website. If you want to donate, remember every dollar counts! You can do your bit for the community and The Center by giving here.
Thanks community! •